Cebu City dad pushes for creation of OFW Desk

ASSISTING OFWs. An overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), in this undated photo, submits his documents for processing upon arrival at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport as part of the strict precautionary measures set in place by the government amid the pandemic. An ordinance was submitted to the Cebu City Council on April 15, 2021, calling for the creation of an OFW Desk. (Photo courtesy of OCD-7)

CEBU CITY – A city legislator here is pushing for an ordinance that will create a coordinating body to be called “OFW Desk” to serve all the needs and concerns of migrant workers.

Councilor Alvin Dizon said Saturday the proposed “Ordinance Providing for Coordinated Quality Services for Overseas Filipino Workers of Cebu City” was introduced to the city council during its regular session last April 15 and was referred to the committee on laws for further review.

Under the proposed ordinance, an OFW Help Desk and Coordinating Body (OFW Desk) will be created with a PHP5-million budget to fund its services.

“The plight of 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 front-line 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,” Dizon said via social media.

For years, there have been reports and documented cases of migrant workers, mostly women, becoming victims of discrimination, exploitation, and various forms of abuse not just by their employers but also by some “unscrupulous state actors,” he added.

The OFW Desk is tasked to coordinate the services of the Cebu City government and its relevant departments and establish clear referral procedures with and among that of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration for the promotion, protection, and enhancement of the rights and welfare of OFWs and their families.

It is also tasked to collaborate and foster linkages with various sectors aside from the national government agencies, particularly civil society organizations, church, media, academe, non-governmental organizations, Gender and Development focal persons in the barangays, among others, that are doing advocacy and development work on migration issues and OFWs, especially women migrant workers.

The OFW Desk will set up and maintain an electronic database of information about migrant workers residing in Cebu City, organized and sorted into relevant classifications, and other related information and data important in supporting the continuous improvement of services and programs.

This will become the basis for the services of the OFWs that will include legal assistance, welfare assistance, pre-departure assistance, and reintegration upon return.

The proposed ordinance also sets December 18 of every year as International Migrants Day to raise awareness about the complexities of global migration and to constantly reaffirm the city’s commitment to safe and dignified migration for all, especially at this time of the pandemic when the plight of our migrants has been brought at the forefront. (PNA)

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