MANILA, Philippines – Filipino migrant workers based in Hong Kong want Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to end what they call the anti-migrant policies of his predecessor, President Arroyo.
“President-elect Noynoy Aquino can start fulfilling his promise of positive change by, first and foremost, scrapping Arroyo’s policies to OFWs that transformed us into cash cows of her corrupt regime and made concrete services to us mere pipe-dreams,” said Dolores Balladares, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-Migrante HK).
Balladares’ group issued their 10-point agenda to Aquino, a day before his inaugural on June 30 as the 15th President of the Philippines.
Among the concerns that OFWs want the new administration to address is the “overpriced” e-passport issued in Hong Kong, which according to Balladares is three times more than in the Philippines.
The group also mentioned the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) Omnibus Policies which was implemented in 2001.
“For more than 9 years, the Arroyo regime has given nothing but misery to the OFWs. Arroyo abused her executive power using the billions of peso OWWA fund as her piggy bank. To achieve this, she put in position her own people to ensure the smooth flow of money to finance her own interests,” Balladares said.
The HK OFWs’ 10-point agenda are: 1) Scrapping of the OWWA Omnibus Policies; 2) Scrapping of the Ban on direct hiring; 3) Scrapping of the POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) Guidelines; 4) Reduce the cost of passport to the amount similar to the cost in the Philippines; 5) OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate) should be given free of charge; 6) Reduce the cost of employment contract processing, remove the authentication fee; 7) Provide free medical and legal services on site; 8) Release the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) Voter’s ID; 9) Stop overcharging/illegal collection of recruitment agencies; and 10) No examination fee for teachers, nurses and midwives abroad.
The group pins their hope on Aquino whom they say “can set the tone of his promised humane and just governance”.
“We keep watch for the approval of these demands. President-elect Noynoy’s time starts now,” she said.