Group Supports Bill to Expand Legal Services for Overseas Filipino Workers

Overseas Filipino workers have expressed support for a bill seeking to expand legal services for OFWs in distress.


Overseas Filipino workers have expressed support for a bill seeking to expand legal services for OFWs in distress.

The Migrante-Middle East, an alliance of Filipino migrant organizations with chapters in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and with members in other Middle East countries threw its strong support for House Bill 5657.

Filed by House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, the bill aims to expand the scope and upgrade the program of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to provide full legal assistance to our migrant workers and overseas Filipinos in distress, amending Republic Act No. 8042 or the “Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995.”

Ocampo said that more than a decade after the passage of RA 8042, the current law needs major improvements in order to uplift the 10 million Filipinos working and/or residing overseas.

The House Bill 5657 also aims to establish a Legal Attaché Office in each country in the Middle East region under the direct supervision of the DFA. The office will be in charge of providing full and appropriate legal assistance to migrant workers and migrants in distress in the respective areas of responsibility of the post.

The bill seeks to provide legal services to all documented and undocumented OFWs facing any type of case on-site and in the pursuit of civil, administrative, criminal, labor and welfare cases against foreign and local recruitment principals and responsible government officials, among others

Migrante-Middle East said that in 1998, the Kapatiran sa Gitnang Silangan (KGS), a pioneering member-organization of Migrante based in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, along with other OFW organizations, launched the campaign for the deployment of a Legal Attache in the Middle East.

Mario Ben, KGS-Migrante spokesperson recalled, “The deployment of a government Labor Attache was the very promise pledged by Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo when she visited Saudi Arabia in May 2006 during a meeting with the Filipino community at the Philippine Embassy.”

Ben said it turned out to be “a promise that was made to be broken”.

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