Posted on May 04, 2010

Day 1 of Villar presidency:I'll bring tired OFWs back home

Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manny Villar has reiterated his vow to bring distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) back to the country and provide them with jobs and livelihood opportunities.

In his speech at his campaign rally in Vigan last Sunday night, Villar said this policy would be set into motion on Day One of his presidency.

He vowed to establish a country that can provide opportunities to Filipinos so parents do not have to leave their families behind in order to work abroad.

"Sabi ko lahat ng OFWs pauwiin muna natin dito sa atin bansa, 'yong mga naghihintay na makauwi rito," Villar said.

"Pangalawa, talaga namang kinakailangan gumawa tayo ng maraming trabaho [at] iyan ang dapat nating ilagay sa isipan ng sinumang mamumuno ng ating bansa," he said.

Villar strongly believes a dream Philippines can be achieved by investing heavily on developing a "strong entrepreneurial class" by funneling credit to small and medium-scale enterprises.

He is also pushing for labor-intensive industries like tourism and the service industry.

Records show that close to two million Filipinos left the country to work abroad, which roughly translates to 4,500 workers being deployed daily—a record-high in overseas deployment.

Villar has initiated "Sagip-OFW" with a helpline through which distressed OFWs and their families can seek assistance. Villar has personally funded the repatriation of hundreds of stranded, deported, abused and troubled OFWs.

The largest OFW group Migrante International has openly commended the advocacies of Villar that are geared toward helping OFWs.

Villar also plans to build "safety nets" for OFWs. He said the government must build a system to address the needs of OFWs when they encounter trouble overseas and to bring them back if necessary.

Although Villar acknowledges the contribution of OFW remittances to the country, particularly in weathering the international financial crisis, he hopes to steadily reduce the country's dependence on OFW remittances since an economy anchored on OFW remittances is fundamentally weak.

OFWs remittances continue to rise and giving the economy a big boost. Last year, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) reported OFW remittances last year reached $17.35 billion, up 5.6 percent despite the global economic crisis.