Press Release
May 2, 2018

Ejercito bats for prompt passage of his two pro-OFW bills

SENATOR JV EJERCITO has called for the immediate passage of his two separate but related bills for troubled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) abroad.

Ejercito made the call following President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's announcement banning the deployment of OFWs to Kuwait, recently.

The President's pronouncement stemmed from the deaths of Filipina OFWs at the Gulf state which also initiated a repatriation program for those who would like to come home.

In a latest statement, Ejercito said he would convince his fellow senators to give priority attention to Senate Bill No. 157 (SBN 157) and SBN 1858, which he both authored, when the session resumes next month.

SBN 157 seeks to amend Republic Act No. 8042 (RA 8042), or the "Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995," as amended, to include in the use of Legal Assistance Fund support to OFWs facing charges with the prescribed penalty of life imprisonment or death from "the time of their arrest or charging all the way to the trial proper and at all levels of appeal."

R.A. 8042 provides that the Legal Assistance Fund "shall be used exclusively" to pay foreign lawyers in representing OFWs facing criminal and labor cases abroad, or in filing cases against their erring or abusive employers.

SBN 1858, on the other hand, aims to create a Special Assistance Fund for OFWs in distress, which shall be utilized for their basic necessities when they are caught in emergencies or detained; legal assistance like litigation expenses, legal fees, payment of translation fees, and attendance in court hearing expenses; repatriation; and medical expenses, including hospitalization and purchases of medicines in the form of vouchers for six months from arrival.

"It has consistently been a matter of government policy to provide every possible manner of aid and assistance to our brothers and sisters who toil overseas. But even the best policies must fail if there are no concrete resources allotted for their implementation," Ejercito noted.

The Foreign Affairs department said that there are around 262,000 Filipinos who are working in Kuwait, nearly 60 percent of them are domestic workers.

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