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Manila, Philippines — In a groundbreaking legal pronouncement released by the Department of Justice (DOJ) not long ago, a significant opportunity has been granted to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). This landmark decision gives the green light to the POEA to embark on securing exclusive insurance contracts from private companies, specifically tailored to safeguard the interests of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) engaged in government-to-government (G-to-G) employment agreements.

Photo taken from Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla’s Official Facebook Page

Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin C. Remulla, in a momentous revelation, affirmed that there are absolutely no legal or constitutional barriers to acquiring comprehensive insurance policies. These policies would provide essential coverage for the monetary claims and repatriation expenses of OFWs operating under the protective umbrella of G-to-G arrangements. The best part is that the premiums for such insurance coverage will be drawn from the Foreign Employers Guarantee Fund (FEFG), ensuring OFWs’ security and welfare without imposing additional financial burden on them.

The introduction of comprehensive insurance coverage ensures that the diverse needs of OFWs, ranging from medical benefits to repatriation expenses and money claims, will be fully attended to and protected.

This move holds paramount importance, as it aligns with the constitutional mandate of providing absolute protection to labor, be it local or overseas. Whether recruited through private agencies or government-to-government (G-to-G) arrangements, all OFWs will now have the assurance of insurance shielding them from potential risks and hardships during their overseas employment.

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The impetus for this momentous development arose from a request by the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), prompting a meticulous legal opinion on the matter. It was found that the Foreign Employers Guarantee Fund (FEFG), established by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) under the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995 (RA No. 10022), plays a pivotal role in this endeavor. The fund necessitates employer contributions prior to the workers’ departure, facilitating the provision of essential insurance coverage.

To ensure the implementation’s seamless execution, a technical working group (TWG) was entrusted with formulating comprehensive guidelines. Among the significant aspects considered was the procurement of insurance policies, specifically tailored to address money claims and repatriation expenses for G-to-G workers. As a result, there is now a potential avenue for drawing claims against the FEFG, strengthening the safety net for these valued overseas workers.

With this progressive measure in place, the future looks brighter for OFWs, who can now embark on their journeys with enhanced security and peace of mind. The nation stands united in its commitment to protect those who toil far from home, contributing to the growth and prosperity of both the local and global workforce.

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Secretary Remulla underscored the crucial importance of obtaining insurance coverage from private providers for workers employed and deployed through G-to-G arrangements. This approach, funded by the FEFG, stands as a completely valid and strategic measure. By doing so, the government showcases its unwavering dedication to safeguarding the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and guaranteeing optimal terms and conditions of employment, as set forth in the Revised POEA Rules and Regulations Governing The Recruitment and Employment of Land-based OFWs of 2016. This proactive stance aims to provide comprehensive protection and support to our nation’s hardworking OFWs during their overseas endeavors.

The ten sacrifices of OFWs

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These encapsulate the remarkable struggles and hardships they endure while working abroad to support their families and uplift their nation’s economy:

Separation from Family: OFWs endure prolonged periods of separation from their loved ones to seek better opportunities abroad.

Cultural Challenges: They face the difficulties of adapting to foreign cultures, languages, and traditions.

Homesickness: The constant longing for home and the comfort of familiar surroundings take an emotional toll.

Exploitation and Abuse: Some OFWs face harsh working conditions and even abuse at the hands of employers.

Financial Strain: Many OFWs shoulder the financial burden of supporting their families back home while also managing their expenses abroad.

Lack of Social Support: Being away from their support systems, they may experience feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Health Risks: OFWs often work in hazardous environments and may lack access to proper healthcare.

Career and Personal Sacrifices: Some OFWs put their career aspirations on hold to support their families’ needs.

Limited Job Security: OFWs face uncertainties in their employment status and contracts.

Uncertain Future: There is no guarantee of successful migration, and some OFWs return home without achieving their goals.

Photo source: DOJ’s Official Facebook Page

As the Philippine government takes significant steps to enhance the protection and welfare of OFWs, the move to secure insurance coverage for those hired under G-to-G arrangements is a promising development. By addressing their essential needs and rights, the government acknowledges the invaluable contributions of OFWs to the nation’s economy and ensures their well-being while working abroad.