Press Release
January 17, 2016


Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero said Philippine embassies and consulates should be a sanctuary for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and not a receiving area for visiting Filipino politicians. Escudero reminded Filipino diplomats that their primary duty is to look after the welfare of OFWs and it is not their obligation to act as "tour guides" of visiting Philippine officials.

"We have to reorient our embassies and consulates that their primary duty is first, to look for opportunities for our OFWs, and second, to promote the rights and welfare of Philippine nationals especially those who are in distress," the leading vice-presidential candidate said.

The veteran lawmaker said he observed during his various trips overseas that embassy officials would often reach out and offer to tour him around. "Ang dapat na pinaglalaanan ng ganitong klase ng pag-aasikaso ay ang ating mga OFW, lalo na ang mga nangangailangan ng tulong at naaakusahan ng krimen," Escudero said.

"Ang ating mga embahada at konsulado ay dapat maging sangtwaryo ika nga ng ating mga kababayan, na kapag tumakbo sila roon ay alam nila na may tutulong parati sa kanila," he explained. Escudero said Philippine posts abroad should make sure that every OFW facing criminal charges abroad is accorded legal assistance--from the time the crime was committed until the case is resolved.

He said it is the duty of the government, through its embassies and consulates, to make sure that the rights of a Filipino accused of any crime or wrongdoing abroad are protected at all times, whether he or she is guilty or not.

"Nagsisimula pa lang 'yung kaso, kinasuhan pa lang o dinemanda pa lang, o hinuli pa lang 'yung Pilipino, dapat ang ating embahada at konsulado ay nandoon na agad. Hindi 'yung kapag nahatulan na o napatawan na ng parusang kamatayan ay doon lamang po sila papasok at tutulong," he said. The frontrunner in the vice-presidential race earlier urged the government to study the possibility of utilizing public funds to raise "blood money" for distressed Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East in order to save them from death penalty.

Escudero said this policy should be reviewed considering that there are still around 79 Filipinos on death row around the world based on the record of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with some of them requiring blood money.

OFWs, he said, deserve all the help they can get from the Philippine government with their huge contribution to the economy.

According to the World Bank's Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, OFW remittances in 2015 were forecast to reach $29.7 billion--the third largest in the world behind India ($72.2 billion) and China ($63.9 billion).

In 2014, OFW remittances reached an all-time high at $26.93 billion, breaking the previous record of $25.35 billion in 2013 based on data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimated that there are around 10 million Filipinos who live abroad and around 1 million leave the country each year for overseas work.

In 2014, government data showed that 2,320,000 Filipinos went to work abroad.

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