Protect our OFWs

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported a two percent growth in money sent home by overseas Filipino workers (OFW) for the month of May compared to the same period last year.

The increase can easily be attributed to the jump in remittances by both land and sea-based workers from the US, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Singapore. With the easing of lockdowns in countries around the world hosting OFWs, BSP shares its optimism that remittances may increase by four percent or more in the coming months.

During the first State of the Nation Address of President Bongbong Marcos Jr., he cited the importance of OFWs in our economy and the role of the newly established Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) in the coming years. He shared the establishment of the One Repatriation Command Center (ORCC) and the use of a social media platform of DMW to immediately attend to the needs of our beloved OFWs.

President Marcos Jr. asked for the simplification of the OFW handbook to ease the transactions related to their travel to and from the Philippines. The DMW, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Office (OWWA), will ensure that the loved ones of our OFWs will be in schools that will equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge.

In relation to this, Malacañang recently announced the appointment of the DMW’s key officials. Its senior officers are veterans in the industry — Attorneys Bernard P. Olalia and Hans Leo J. Cacdac who will oversee the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), respectively. Joining their ranks are Undersecretaries Maria Velasco -Allones, Atty. Patricia Yvonne Caunan and Mr. Venecio Legaspi — all have impeccable resumès to boost and ensure their capacity to lead the DMW.

In response to Republic Act 10022, which provides for compulsory Insurance for Agency-Hired Workers, insurance companies have been offering their OFW Insurance Program for eight years. The program covers both non-accidental and accidental death, compassionate visit, and permanent disability benefits. Our company, Cocogen Insurance, has issued more than 280,000 policies under its OFW program since its inception in 2014.

In March 2022, POEA issued Memorandum Circular 10, expanding the compulsory insurance requirement to Direct Hires and Rehires due to the existence of threats of other emerging infectious diseases amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic. This was suspended, however, in Advisory No. 55, due to the improving state of global health, high vaccine rollout and opening of borders, and the need to provide an improved insurance package for our OFWs. The insurance companies are most definitely ready to meet with the POEA to provide more protection to the OFWs.

The plans and reforms of Secretary Susan Ople are something to look forward to. The use of data analysis for the improved formation of OFW policies is among President Marcos Jr.’s marching orders.

Another is the formulation of programs to address the needs of families, especially of children, left by OFWs. Lastly, the review and digitalization of the Overseas Employment Certificate will be key to easing the processing of OFW requirements.

A lot of attention has been given to our OFWs, Secretary Ople, and the DMW. All eyes look toward the coming changes which will impact the quality of life of our OFWs as they continuously embark on foreign lands.


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