Promoting the interests of our OFW

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Our country’s economy is in a sound position today in no small part due to the remittances of our overseas Filipino workers (OFW). These remittances not only help our OFW’s families, it also sustains the growth of our industries, our economy and our society.

“It is also important to remember that they are not superheroes. Just like us, they have their own fears and worries for their families.

It is for these contributions by OFW that the month of December was declared as “The Month of Overseas Filipinos” by virtue of Proclamation 276. The declaration aims to recognize and honor our OFW for their continuing contribution “to building up the Philippine economy through their taxes and remittances” and the maintenance of our democracy.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte understands the enduring significance of OFW in our social, political and economic life. It is for this reason that during his third State of the Nation Address, he hailed the economic contributions of our migrant workers and assured them that their welfare is the top foreign policy concern of the Philippines.

Since the President came to power in 2016, his administration has introduced several programs catering to Filipino migrant workers. We have created one-stop shop centers where OFW can avail themselves of various amenities like passport services, training assistance and scholarship programs and established the first-ever Overseas Filipino Bank which addresses the financial needs of OFW and their families in the Philippines.

But despite these programs, the President has a “final goal” for our OFW and that is to lure them back to the country, reintegrate them into society, so they can contribute to the development of the Philippines while being with their families.

For one, the Department of Agriculture, together with the Department of Labor and Employment, created a program where OFW may apply for loans to boost food production services. Likewise, the Department of Trade and Industry has been leading livelihood and entrepreneurship programs for returning migrant workers.

President Duterte also signed the Balik Scientists Law this year to attract Filipino scientists abroad to come back and share their knowledge and expertise in the Philippines. The government has also been engaging with educational ministries abroad to discuss “mutual recognition” degrees for OFW.

We have accomplished so much for our migrant workers, but there is still much work to do.

One of the reasons I decided to run for senator is I want to become, not just the bridge of OFW to the President, but their voice in the Senate. And I, your “Kuya Bong” Go, would like to continue contributing and working with and for our OFW.

A significant part of my legislative agenda is to push for the establishment of a department for OFW, which is one of the many requests of Filipinos in other countries we have visited.

The goal of this department is to streamline the services provided for the OFW and to make the several processes they undergo more efficient and convenient.

To safeguard OFW children from criminality and drugs, we will continue to support the three-point campaign of the government against illegal drugs, criminality and corruption. We will also study the amendment of the Juvenile Justice Law exploited by criminals to use our children as vessels for their illegal activities. We will build sports and youth development centers in every local government unit nationwide to engage our children in more productive and meaningful activities instead of losing them to vices like illegal drugs.

I have nothing but respect for our OFW. But while I completely agree that they truly are our modern-day heroes, it is also important to remember that they are not superheroes. Just like us, they have their own fears and worries for their families and problems to deal with. As their kababayan who cares for them deeply and who is in the position to provide help, I have a responsibility to do everything in my power to lighten their burdens.

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Blast from the past: On 10 December 1898, the infamous Treaty of Paris was signed between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Spain, ending the Spanish-American War. Through this agreement, Spain also relinquished the territories of Cuba, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines to the United States for a sum of $20 million.

“The President has a “final goal” for our OFW and that is to lure them back to the country, reintegrate them into society.

The signing of the treaty was one of the greatest betrayals to ever happen in Philippine history. During the revolution, the United States made assurances that it would recognize Philippine independence. However, as Filipino revolutionaries were about to capture Manila, the United States Navy staged its own assault on Manila Bay and captured the capital and later on the archipelago, for themselves.

This duplicity, along with the atrocities they committed during their occupation of the country and their policy of interference ever since, is the reason why Filipinos remain distrustful of the United States. In light of this historical injustice, the President is only right in reassessing our dealings and relationship with the United States.

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