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Gatchalian’s OWWA charter hurdles second reading

A measure that seeks to provide a charter that will govern the operations and administration of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration or OWWA has been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives earlier this month.


Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian, one of the proponents of the proposed charter, said creating a concrete guideline for OWWA will promote the welfare and enable a more responsive delivery of services to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).


The lawmaker also said it will address the serious concerns in OWWA’s fund management and lenient disbursement.


“The creation of a new OWWA charter will clarify the mission of its creation, define the membership base and coverage of benefits,” Gatchalian said.


“It could also help in easily identifying the availability of programs for its members, fund management and public accountability of its administrators and officials,” he added.


The legislator also recalled the Republic Act 8042 or the ‘Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995’, which was approved during the time of former President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 to strengthen OWWA’s mandate and services for OFWs.


“The State shall afford full protection to labor, local and overseas, and promote full employment and equality of employment opportunities for all,” stated in the Act.

Early October, the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs chairman Akbayan party-list Rep. Walden F. Bello defended House Bill (HB) 4990.


Bello’s measure substituted HB 156, 2053, and HB 3254 of Gatchalian, Tarlac 2nd District Congressman Susan Yap, and Nueva Ecija 2nd District Congressman Joseph Gilbert Violago, respectively.


Under HB 4990, OWWA, an attached agency of Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), will be vested with a special function to develop and implement welfare programs and services that respond to the needs of its member-OFWs and their families.


The government agency shall develop and implement a program for the grant of rebates or some forms of financial assistance to OFWs who have been members of OWWA for at least five years and have not availed of any service or benefit from OWWA.


The OWWA shall also maintain a comprehensive database of member-OFWs to be updated regularly. No OFW shall be denied membership to the OWWA by reason of age, gender, nationality, religious belief, or political opinion or affiliation.


The measure also mandates that there should be sufficient operative budget of OWWA to support full protection of the OFW welfare and necessitates the creation of the OWWA Board of Trustees, a policy-making body composed of 12 members and chaired by the Secretary of Labor and Employment. (Tim Alcantara)