Press Release
January 30, 2016

New OWWA Act to bring better services,
fair policies for OFWs - Drilon

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that the passage of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Act will boost the government's capability to respond to the needs of millions of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and make more equitable the agency's collection policy for its land-based and sea-based members.

Drilon said there is an unequal treatment of OFWs with regard to the payment of OWWA dues because, under the current OWWA policy, sea-based workers such as seafarers pay higher contribution to the OWWA than land-based workers.

He said that the land-based workers would only pay $25 for a two-year contract, while the seafarers would pay $25 every six months or a total of $100 for two years.

He said the new measure, which is now in the bicameral conference committee, should ensure that equal treatment will be afforded to both the land-based workers and the seafarers.

"There must be an equal treatment for the land-based workers and the seafarers in terms of the required membership pay to the OWWA every time they leave the country," Drilon said.

Drilon also said that the new OWWA Act, which introduces structural reforms to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, will help the agency better fulfill its mandate and respond to the needs of OFWs and their families everywhere.

The Senate chief, also a former labor secretary, explained that the measure redefines the functions of the OWWA as a national agency so it would get funding for its operational expenses, such as employee salaries, from the national government instead of from the contribution of Filipino workers abroad.

"With this law, the OFW contributions will now be spent exclusively for programs and activities that directly aid our modern-day heroes," Drilon added Drilon said that expanding the OWWA's ability to help OFWs is a timely move given the pressing need to extend assistance to Filipinos in dire conditions in other countries, like those facing death penalties or wrongly imprisoned.

"This way, we can secure more funds which will be used to for OWWA's programs for Filipinos abroad, especially critical services like the repatriation assistance and reintegration programs, psycho-social counseling, scholarships and others," Drilon said.

Meanwhile, Drilon said that the OFWs will also greatly benefit from the passage of the proposed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA).

Drilon said that the new measure will, among others, improve the Custom's procedures in handling goods and packages coming in and out of the country, such as the balikbayan boxes that OFWs send to their loved ones.

Drilon also noted that the CTMA includes a section introduced by Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto which will raise the tax-exempt value of "pasalubong" cargo brought in or sent by overseas Filipino workers. In the Senate-approved version, it will be raised up to P150,000 from P10,000. The measure is now with the bicam.

Drilon is confident that the two measures will be signed into law before the 16th Congress comes to a close in July of this year.

News Latest News Feed