Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has issued an urgent appeal to various government agencies, including the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), to conduct immediate action to account Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) affected by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Migrant Workers, Go emphasized the need for a swift and comprehensive inventory of affected OFWs, particularly those who may have been victims of violence. There is also a need to plan for their immediate repatriation when necessary.
“The safety of our kababayans is paramount. I urge the DMW, DFA, and POEA to act swiftly and ensure that every Filipino worker is accounted for,” said Go.
The senator also appealed to OFWs to ensure their safety by coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.
“I understand that many of you have built lives abroad, but your safety should always come first. Please coordinate with our embassy and avail yourselves of the government’s assistance,” Go advised.
According to a recent report by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), around 200 OFWs based in the Gaza Strip are currently being monitored due to the conflict.
The Presidential Communications Office (PCO) has also released a statement on President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s directive to DMW and OWWA to locate and account for all OFWs and their families in Israel.
The government is also closely coordinating with the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Migrant Workers Office (MWO) in Israel to ensure their safety and welfare.
Meanwhile, DMW has opened a hotline, as well as several mobile numbers, to accept calls and queries from OFWs and the Filipino community who are in need of government assistance. Go urged OFWs to make use of these channels to protect fellow Filipinos.
The senator is a long-time advocate of OFW welfare. He was one of the authors and co-sponsors of Republic Act No. 11641, which created the DMW.
“The DMW Act was designed to protect our OFWs. Now, more than ever, it’s time to put this law into action to protect our kababayans,” Go emphasized.
As the Israel-Gaza conflict continues to escalate, Go said that the Philippine government should take all necessary steps to ensure the safety and well-being of OFWs caught in the crossfire.
“I call upon all relevant agencies to work hand in hand in this endeavor. Let us set aside bureaucracy and focus on immediate action. Lives are at stake here,” he urged.
“Proteksyunan natin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino nasaan man sila sa mundo lalo na ang mga itinuturing nating modern-day heroes na OFWs na nagtatrabaho para mayroong maitustos sa pamilya nilang naiwan,” he added,” Go concluded.
Image credits: Bibo Nueva España/Senate PRIB