POEA chief to presidential bets: Help OFWs innovate
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac advised presidential candidates to put on their agenda innovations in existing electronic systems for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
“Off the top of my head, [they should include in their platforms the] further enhancement of electronic systems so it’s easier for OFWs to update their registration profiles. It’s easier for government agencies to keep track who are the documented OFWs, as to who are licensed recruiters, who are the illegal recruiters,” Cacdac told Rappler in an interview on Wednesday, December 9.
Various electronic programs are already in place that aim not only to ease registration processes for OFWs but to protect them from illegal recruitment as well.
The POEA has an online portal where Filipinos seeking employment overseas may register through the POEA’s Government Placement Branch. Licensed recruiters are likewise required to register online. (READ: POEA to recruiters: Use 'electronic systems' in hiring OFWs)
In partnership with the Department of Labor and Employment, the POEA also implements a program called Balik Manggagawa Online Processing System, which allows vacationing OFWs who are rehired by their employers to secure an overseas employment certificate digitally.
Licensed recruiters are also required by the Philippine government to have an official Facebook page to serve as a communication platform for deployed house service workers, to prevent disputes, to endorse complaints, and to submit reports to the POEA. (PODCAST: Ethical recruitment of OFWs)
“We still could do so much more in terms of improved access, meaning how to get into the system, overcoming certain glitches with respect to certain cases where some OFWs get disconnected as soon as they are connected, uploading of photographs, facilitation of the electronic payment facility, small things like that,” said Cacdac. (READ: 'Slow' gov't process makes OFWs fall for illegal recruiters)
The POEA chief also said the presidential candidates should make OFW concerns an election issue.
“I think OFW concerns matter to not just the OFWs themselves but [for] many Filipino families. Their welfare and protection is utmost,” Cacdac said.
POEA records show that in 2014, there were 1,832,668 OFWs – 1,430,842 land-based and 401,826 sea-based. (READ: What you need to know about overseas Filipino workers)
‘Push the OFW agenda’
For the POEA chief, OFWs would need the next president to have a “strong stance” in the protection of the rights of migrant workers as well as the facilitation of ethical recruitment.
“So when I say take a strong stance, I also mean not just articulating, taking action in terms of implementing laws but also putting available resources to good use – budget, technical, financial resources – that will push the OFW agenda,” said Cacdac.
“Of course, [the next president should oversee] negotiations of the multilateral, regional, bilateral front to make sure that host countries and the global community are also strongly pushing for the rights and protection of migrant workers,” he added.
The 5 leading candidates for the presidency have openly expressed their support of the protection of OFWs.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, former presidential adviser on OFWs and now United Nationalist Alliance standard-bearer, vows to strengthen support mechanisms for OFWs, widen the anti-trafficking network for migrant workers, and to increase the Department of Foreign Affairs’ legal assistance fund for OFWs.
Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had strong words against those behind the tanim bala (bullet planting) scheme and said he would lawyer for their victims. He also called as "insensitive and callous" the controversial balikbayan box plan of the Bureau of Customs.
Former interior secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, Liberal Party presidential candidate, plans to continue the Aquino administration’s repeated pronouncements that the government should strive to provide good jobs at home so that Filipinos would not be compelled to seek greener pastures abroad.
They would have to face problem of the dwindling overseas absentee voting (OAV) turnout in recent years.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) data show that from 25% in the 2010 elections, only 16% of the total registered OFWs voted in 2013.
Some low OAV turnout causes identified by OFWs include limited access to voting centers and problems with scheduling and information dissemination.
The poll body is determined to increase OAV turnout in the 2016 elections. – Rappler.com