Filipinos are no slaves to anyone
HOTSPOT - Mocha Uson (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2018 - 12:00am

“Every unlawful physical injury that is inflicted on an OFW is an injury I personally bear as the head of this Republic.” –President Rodrigo Roa Duterte

The welfare of overseas Filipino workers or OFWs is seen as one of the top priorities in the administration of President Duterte. Various initiatives to provide assistance and services to our modern day heroes have been presented, such as the One-Stop Shop intended to provide OFWs with faster and more accessible government services, the iDOLE or OFW ID which aims to deliver more efficient interagency transactions. In addition to these, the President led the launching of the Overseas Filipino Bank just last month, which was established to respond to the financial needs of our OFWs and to create ways for smoother banking services for Filipinos working abroad as well as for their families. These efforts of the government only show that it truly cares for the welfare of our countrymen, particularly those who have opted to work abroad in hopes of giving their families a better future.

Last week, President Duterte ordered the imposition of total deployment ban of OFWs bound for Kuwait. He clarified however, that it is not to offend any government or anyone; rather, it is a reaction to the growing number of reports of abuse of Filipinos by their employers, and the recent discovery of the body of OFW Joanna Daniela Demafelis inside a freezer, showing signs of torture and indications that she was strangled to death. As any father of a nation would do, the President wants to ensure the safety of his people before allowing more Filipinos to work in Kuwait, hence the deployment ban.

In addition, President Duterte ordered DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III last Friday to bring home distressed Filipinos from Kuwait in 72 hours. The Department of Foreign Affairs then announced that a total of 800 OFWs have been scheduled to be repatriated from Feb. 11 to 13.

We understand that this action of the government may also affect the OFWs who are fortunate enough to have good employers, but at the moment we are asking for unity and understanding in this trying times. We must stand together with the government in its efforts to ensure the safety, not just of most, but of all Filipinos working abroad. We should take part in sending the message that no one can mistreat or abuse an OFW and get away with it. I also believe that as much as it is the duty of the Philippine government to ensure the safety of its people working abroad, the country where a Filipino works likewise shares the same responsibility in keeping them away from harm. 

In this light, I would like to end this article with a message from our Tatay Digong that applies to all countries where there are Filipino workers: “We do not seek special privileges for our workers, but we do expect respect for their dignity and basic human rights. Keep them free from harm. I implore you.”

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