OVP acts on 1,325 OFW requests in 2012

The Office of the Vice President has acted on 1,325 requests for assistance from Overseas Filipino Workers and their families that it received in the year 2012.

These requests ranged from repatriation, assistance on salary and benefits claims, legal assistance for detained OFWs, and grievances against recruiters and agents.

Vice President Jejomar C. Binay, Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers’ (OFW) Concerns, has directed his office to immediately act on requests received from OFWs or their families and coordinate with concerned agencies for their quick resolution.

Among those that Binay’s office was able to help were a 3-year-old boy entrusted to the care of his mother’s friends in Kuwait when the latter was deported to the Philippines after her working visa expired; Alfredo Salmos, survivor of an accidental electrocution in Saudi Arabia in 2010; and Milagros Villarin, who died of natural causes in her home in Belgium.

The Vice President is also continuing efforts to raise the P44-million blood money required for the pardon of Joselito Zapanta, a Filipino worker in Saudi Arabia sentenced to execution after killing his Sudanese landlord in an altercation.

Zapanta’s execution scheduled in November last year was stayed for four months after President Aquino and the Vice President appealed to the Saudi government for an extension in paying the blood money demanded by the Sudanese’ family. The amount, which was the equivalent of P50-million, was then reduced to P44-million.

The Philippine government has so far deposited in Saudi Arabia the equivalent of P4 million, the standard amount allotted for blood money cases that qualify for government assistance.

Vice President has also been active in seeking and urging the repatriation of OFWs in war-torn Syria. As well, he personally interceded for the repatriation of 14 Filipino workers in Jeddah and 69 in Dubai, who were stranded in OWWA-run shelters.

Binay, who is also the head of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), and the Presidential Task Force Against Illegal Recruitment (PTFAIR), has also ordered mandatory interviews of Filipinos repatriated from abroad.

“Repatriated Filipinos undergo mandatory interview so that government can determine whether they were victims of illegal recruitment, as well as to detect patterns of deployment employed by illegal recruiters and trafficking syndicates, and to minimize re-victimization of Filipino irregular OFWs,” the Vice President emphasized.

“We are continuing to intensify the drive to protect the welfare of our fellow Filipinos abroad, and we look forward to another year of meaningful changes this 2013,” Binay added.#