What OFWs can expect from their party-list rep

by Maria Aleta Nieva Nishimori, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at May 28 2013 06:02 PM | Updated as of May 29 2013 05:15 PM

Ambassador RoySeñeres, OFW Family party-list group-- File Photo

MANILA – For the first time, a group representing overseas Filipino workers has won in the Philippine elections.

"In the 14-year history of the party-list election in this country, no OFW sectoral representative," according to Ambassador Roy Señeres, the 1st nominee of the OFW Family party-list group

The Commission on Elections said OFW Family Party-list will get two seats in Congress for garnering 750,753 votes.

"I believe we won here because we obtained 2 percent, unlike the others who did not obtain 2 percent," said Señeres, citing the 2 percent of the votes cast for party-list.

Señeres said their group has prepared a 12-point platform of government which they will pursue in Congress.

"Each one of these platform is already prepared that I may be able to file these immediately once I sit in Congress," said Señeres who was among the guests on ANC's Talkback with Tina Monson-Palma.

He cited the case of money remitted by the more than 10 million Filipinos overseas to their families back in the Philippines.
"This is being abused by some remittance (centers) and banks. Some charge $1 per remittance, the other would charge $7 and $10 per remittance. There ought to be a law which would regulate this," he said.

They also want to improve the quality of life of OFWs and their families back home. He said there have been countless cases of fathers who become philanderers overseas.

"They do not send financial support to their children. So many children have stopped going to school, the wife could not do anything about it except to write a letter to the ambassador asking for the ambassador to look for her husband," he said.

How to legislate it? Señeres said he will propose a law which would authorize ambassadors to call the erring spouse and ask them to remit money to their families back home.

"If he refuses, the ambassador is authorized to withhold the renewal of his passport unless he presents a receipt of remittance to his legitimate family," he explained.

This is often the case they receive from members who seek help from their group, the OFW Family Club.

Prior to taking part in the party-list election, their organization has been extending assistance to OFWs and their families since 1998.

The group was established as an NGO in 2000 by Señeres, his family and some volunteers to extend help to OFWs in need even after his term in foreign service ended in 1998. Before heading the group, Señeres became a labor attaché in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (1983-1989); Washington DC, USA (1989-1994) and as Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary in Abu Dhabi (1994-1998).

On the issue of pork barrel in Congress, Señeres said in the same television guesting that they will accept it as this would help their advocacies for OFWs.

"The OFW Family Partylist will accept it. The money will be utilize for the repatriation of stranded OFWs, for blood money, for convicted about to be beheaded OFW who is a victim of hometown decision. I will utilize this money for their blood money and may even ask for more from the budget secretary," he said.

He also admitted that they will be a pro-administration partylist. "I will side with the president. After all, he is the commander-in-chief of the 10 million OFWs who are now fighting the war against poverty overseas".

But he was quick to add that their group will also work closely with Vice President Jejomar Binay, the Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Workers' Concerns.

'I will also work with him harmoniously because he is the adviser on OFWs. I will work harmoniously with the secretary of foreign affairs. This is all for the benefit of OFWs," he said.