Cebu City passes ordinance for streamlined services for OFWs
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) will now be taken care of better in Cebu City after the City Council passed an ordinance that would streamline services for them.
Councilor Alvin Dizon, the proponent of the ordinance, said that for several years there have been many reports and documented cases of the migrant workers, who are mostly women, becoming victims of discrimination, exploitation, and various forms of abuse not just by their employers but also by some unscrupulous state actors of undocumented ones.
“The plight OFWs from Cebu City, especially our women migrant workers, is better protected by gender–sensitive labor migration governance and the existence of a comprehensive, well–coordinated and responsive quality services of frontline agencies at the local level in collaboration with other stakeholders such as non–government organizations who are advocating for doing legal, developmental and advocacy work for the sector,” said Dizon.
The ordinance aims to put up an Overseas Filipino Workers Help Desk and Coordinating Body (OFW Desk) that would coordinate the agencies that can provide assistance to OFWs including the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and others.
It also aims to set up and maintain an electronic database of information about OFWs residing in Cebu City so the information can be organized and sorted into relevant classifications by occupation, job category, and other demographic classifications and such other related information that can be used in supporting the continuous improvement of services and programs.
The legislation also aims to provide legal assistance on matters concerning the protection of the rights and welfare of the OFWs and their families; facilitate the reintegration of returning OFWs; provide welfare assistance to OFWs in need of medical attention or urgent economic aid; assist the national government agencies in the provision of pre–departure and employment training and anti–illegal recruitment seminars; among others.
The ordinance would also enjoin the city to celebrate every 18th day of December, the International Migrants Day to raise awareness about the complexities and challenges of global migration.
Should the ordinance be signed by Mayor Edgardo Labella, the Department of Manpower and Development and Placement (DMDP) will be the office responsible for managing the day–to-day activities of the OFW Desk, headed by the focal person or a coordinator.
A budget of P5 million is stipulated as allowable allocation for the project in future budgets.
Dizon hopes Labella will sign the passed ordinance so that OFWs residing in the city will finally have easier access to government services through the help desk. /rcg
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