By John Noel E. Herrera
The 14th Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Iloilo approved on third and final reading the Provincial Ordinance No. 2020-219 or the “Creation and Institutionalization of the Iloilo Provincial Overseas Filipinos Migration and Development (OFMD) Center” that will cater to the welfare of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the province.
In a radio interview, 4th district Board Member Rolando Distura, author and sponsor of the ordinance, said Iloilo OFMD Center will also serve as the information hub of Ilonggo migrants and workers, as well as a venue to discuss different issues related to migration and welfare of the OFWs.
“Ang center amo ang magabaton sang concerns, problema, mga dapat tagaan sang talubangod, kung may problema sa ila employment, kung gina maltrato sila, gina sakit sila, may problema sa legalisasyon sang ila documents, and well-being sang ila man pamilya. Kag kung pag-pauli nila diri sa Pilipinas, maintegrate sila liwat sa komunidad, kung ano ang mga programa nga pwede naton nga mabulig sa ila in coordination with different government agencies,” Distura said.
(The center will be the one that will cater to the concerns, problems, and other things that should be given priority if they are maltreated, they are abused, if they have problems with the legality of their documents, and the well-being of their families as well. Also, if they go home to the Philippines, we can integrate them into the community, and introduce them to programs that can help them, in coordination with different government agencies.)
Another function of the OFMD Center is to ensure safe migration and reintegration for migrants who might be experiencing economic depression, maltreatment, human rights violation, and employment contract violations, among others.
“We consider our OFWs as our modern-day heroes. Their remittances help our economy and because of their services, their remittances we are able to stay economically stable somehow, so it is just right and important that we take good care of them and value them,” Distura added
It will also offer psycho-social services and training opportunities for the migrants and their families with the help of the Iloilo Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office (PSWDO).
The ordinance was also inspired by Task Force Bulig Ilonggo of the Iloilo Provincial Government that was launched during the war in Syria in 2019 which affected some Ilonggo OFWs.
Distura added that the center has also been functioning since the start of Task Force Bulig Ilonggo and it was institutionalized through the ordinance, as the task force will now be enhanced and absorbed by the OFWD Center.
He also said that the creation of the center will be under the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) of Iloilo province as the fund for it “should be within the parameters of 10 percent of the budget of PESO.”