MANILA, Aug 18 (Mabuhay) — Senator Idol Raffy Tulfo is honored to be elected as the first Chairman of the newly created Senate Committee on Migrant Workers which would allow him to intensify his long-standing battle to protect the rights of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

In a privilege speech, Tulfo said that while the government exerted effort to rescue Filipinos abroad from the clutches of abuse, he stressed that the effort was “woefully short and glaringly insufficient.”

“I have fought against the abuses our OFWs have faced for my whole career of twenty years. I am proud that our OFWs have seen me as safe harbor whenever they were desperate to send their family members home. But, admittedly, my solutions were only symptomatic treatment to a systematic problem,” he said.

“The birth of the Department of Migrant Workers is the rebirth of hope that we may yet fix the system and improve our means to be proactive in the defense of our OFWs and I am more than elated when I was given the honor to be the first chairman of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers,” he said.

Tulfo, a known defender of the marginalized group with a career in public service spanning over 20 years, presented before his colleagues on Wednesday, Aug. 17, a series of video clips showing Filipino migrant workers experiencing grave abuse from their foreign employers.

“My dear colleagues, happiness in the life of an OFW is never guaranteed. The reality of the situation is that many of our countrymen are habitually abused by their foreign employers,” he shared.

“Hinding-hindi ko masikmura makakita ng anak na umiiyak sa kanyang nawalang nanay. Isang ama na napilitang mamalimos para mabayaran ang lamay ng kanyang anak.

“At hinding-hindi na natin pwede hayaan na mayroong mga kamaganak na magugulat na lamang na ang nagpapadala sa kanila ng kanilang balikbayan box ay kanilang susunduin sa airport na nakakahon,” he added.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), the number of Filipino workers abroad during the period of April to September 2020 was estimated at 1.77 million, 96.4 percent or equivalent to 1.71 million of which were Overseas Contract Workers (OCWs).

With the creation of DMW and its concurrent committee in the Senate, Tulfo asserted that they can now focus on providing legislation that would allow embassies abroad to monitor OFWs to ensure that abuse is prevented before it is committed.

“We, standing as one, have the opportunity to pass laws that would authorize our embassies abroad to institute offices dedicated solely to the vetting of prospective employers and the enforcement of the laws that are meant to protect our OFWs,” he said.

“Magkakaroon po tayo ng paraan na mapigilan ang panghahalay sa unang pagkakataon na makita nating maaari itong mangyari. Magkakaroon po tayo ng paraan na mas mabilis masundo ang ating OFW na pinagbabantaan na saktan ng kanyang amo.

“At magkakaroon po tayo ng paraan para bigyan ng nararapat na representasyon ang ating OFW na may kaso laban sa kanyang amo upang maramdaman niya ang suporta ng inang bayan kahit na sa lupa ng banyaga,” he added.

Under his watch, Tulfo vowed that the problems of OFWs will not be overlooked and disregarded anymore. (MNS)