OWWA chief’s rant against OFWs earns ire
Migrante International (MI) castigated Overseas Workers Welfare Administration executive director Arnell Ignacio on his statement against Filipinos who are in trouble abroad.
Reacting to Ignacio telling “stubborn” Filipinos to just stay in the country to spare fellow overseas workers from shame, MI said such rants only succeed in covering up the fact that the Philippine government is deficient in orienting them before they travel abroad.
“This will only make it appear that government officials are doing something when they are actually not doing anything on the issue,” MI chairperson Joanna Concepcion said.
In a video, Ignacio did not hold back on his criticisms of Filipinos he accused of being abusive of their rights and freedoms while abroad.
The OWWA chief was apparently reacting to reports of five OFWs arrested in Sharja for pretending on Tiktok to be prostituted persons who freshly arrived in the United Arab Emirates.
“Sa mga OFWs namin natin na lagi na lang isinasangkot ‘yung sarili nila sa mga kalokohan, nananadyang gawin, basta gusto nila gagawin nila, at alam nila na mapapahamak sila…utang na loob naman!” Ignacio exclaimed.
(To our OFWs who always involved themselves in shenanigans, who do it willingly—as long as they want it, they do it even though they know they will get themselves into trouble—for goodness’ sake!)
Ignacio said they are already at a loss on how to remind OFWs more and how his agency can serve them more but Filipinos in trouble abroad have the penchant of telling lies and not being honest with their shenanigans.
“Hindi ho ba tayo nahihiya sa pinag-gagawa natin? Magbo-boyfriend, magpapa-buntis. Kahit alam niyong bawal. Pagkatapos, kung ano-ano ang sasabihin. Kayo ho ang mas matapang e!” Ignacio said.
(Aren’t we ashamed? You go into relationships, get pregnant, even though you know it is prohibited. Then you tell lies. And you have the gall to be aggressive.)
Ignacio added that while OFWs are regarded as new heroes, this does not give them the license to do as they please.
“For goodness’ sake, if that is all you intend to do, do not fly abroad anymore!” he said.
But MI said Ignacio’s rant was misplaced, reminding the OWW chief that informing OFWs about migrant-receiving countries is most important in protecting their interests and welfare.
“What Ignacio and OWWA need to do is improve the agency’s Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar (PDOS) and Post-Arrival Orientation Seminar (PAOS) to educate prospective and repeat OFWs about laws and customs of migrant receiving countries,” Concepcion said.
“According to our members, these seminars often educate OFWs about being submissive to their employers, but about not the laws and customs of migrant-receiving countries,” she added.
Despite the government’s weaknesses in informing and educating OFWs, most OFWs abide by the law and customs of migrant-receiving countries, the migrant leader said.
She also added that most OFWs who report their problems to the media have real grievances, important points that Ignacio failed to mention in his anger at erring OFWs.
Concepcion revealed that OFWs also see many migrant-receiving countries as overly-harsh to migrants.
“While the government should educate OFWs, it should also learn from OFWs,” Concepcion said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)