Sunday, March 20, 2011

Our OFWs’ Dilemma

Our OFWs’ Dilemma
By Erick San Juan

As the saying goes, when it rains, it pours. The present administration is now being faced with the mass evacuation of our OFWs from countries ravaged with unrest and uncertainties that has put them in grave danger. From man-made disaster to natural calamities, our modern day heroes are faced with uncertainty of coming home safely and losing their jobs in the process. And now, even the country’s economy is at stake here as thousands of our OFWs are coming home, so is the reduction of their remittances that keep our economy afloat.

Who could have thought that countries where thousands of our OFWs are staying will someday reach a point where they would rather leave than face uncertainties of losing their lives. But then again, thoughts of going home and losing a well-paid job abroad is something else that has to be considered seriously.

As the OFWs struggle for their lives (and jobs) in various countries, this administration is still in a slow motion mode. What is fast here is the finger pointing on who should take the responsibilities. While they are still contemplating on what to do, thousands of OFWs stranded in places where danger lurks are in the wait and see mode. Our officials only told them not to leave their houses, and there’s no need for mass evacuation because its only alert level 2. Do we have to wait for the Japanese government’s announcement on the need for evacuation?

Is this the way to treat our OFWs in a life and death situation? When all the other governments of various nationalities have started evacuating their citizens? Or is it because there is no fund to move them out from places where there is a possible danger? If this is so, why is PNoy very quick and even bragged that PH is one of the first to give donations to Japan?

We are not against in giving donations to our neighbor country, but the point here is that if the government has the money (14 million dollars) to donate, where is the money or funds to help our kababayans in distress? Methinks now is the right time for the president to order an independent audit of all government funds. Mafioso's from within it's agencies must be unmasked.

Now that the issue of funds was brought out, a lot of OFWs in different countries are now asking if the OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) fund is still intact. Because this is the time wherein such fund should be utilized for the OFW’s welfare. And we are talking here of several billions of pesos fund just for the use of the OFWs in times like this.

Recently, OWWA officials reported that the fund is still intact and can be tap anytime they need it, why only now? Where is it when our "Bagong Bayani" (modern day heroes) needed it? Are they being taken for a ride here with their own money?

The clamor to audit the OWWA funds is growing so is the discontent of the poor overseas workers. The OFWs are waiting for some real action and not just rhetoric from the palace to address their grievances. The people in PNoy’s loop must take action immediately. What is happening now could just be the start of more problems to come concerning our workers abroad.

The brewing unrest in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now being contained by their government, so with the other countries in the Middle East. But the nagging question is – for how long? I believe that these events will reach a boiling point, yet, it can be delayed. That is why our government should act fast and plan well on what to do. Remember that there are over a million OFWs in the KSA alone. As an observer of events unfolding, PNoy should be prepared for the worst case scenario concerning the exodus of thousands of our OFWs.

There is no room for blame game and wait and see mode. Act fast and act with conviction to help our fellow Filipinos working abroad.

God bless our Bagong Bayani!

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