Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher “Bong” Go lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for signing an executive order (EO) which will secure the completion of the country’s first hospital dedicated to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in San Fernando City, Pampanga.
In addition to providing medical care primarily for OFW and their qualified dependents, the 100-bed-capacity hospital will also conduct research on the prevention, care and treatment of occupational diseases common among OFWs, as well as train health workers on the implementation of OFW-specific occupational health services.
“Masakit para sa akin na makita ang mga OFWs na iniiwan ang kanilang mga mahal sa buhay para lamang makapagtrabaho sa mga malalayong bansa. Marami sa kanila ang nawalan ng mga trabaho dulot ng pandemya at namomroblema kung ano ang ipangtutustos sa kanilang mga pamilya. Kaya bilang mambabatas, talagang natutuwa akong makita na binibigyan natin ng tamang pagkilala ang mga bagong bayani sa panahong ito.”
EO 154 provides for the creation of the Inter-Agency Committee on the OFW Hospital (ICOH) to serve as the Board of Trustees of the hospital. The body’s main functions and responsibilities will include promulgating policies and implementing plans and programs of the hospital, among others.
The ICOH will be composed of the secretaries of the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management; administrators of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration; and two representatives from the private sector as appointed by the President.
Through OWWA, a referral system will be created to ensure the efficient delivery of medical and healthcare services, including the conduct of pre-employment medical examinations of departing OFW.
The construction work for the hospital officially commenced in January 2021 and is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
As part of his commitment to advance the welfare of OFW, Go personally led the groundbreaking ceremony in February 2020. During the event, he met with Nancy Valencia, an undocumented domestic helper who was repatriated from Lebanon with the help of the senator’s office.
To further streamline the services provided for OFWs, Go more recently authored and co-sponsored Senate Bill 2234, which provides for the establishment of the Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos. Filed in May 2021, the bill was certified as urgent by President Duterte. It is the consolidated version of Go’s earlier bill to create the Department of Overseas Filipinos and took into consideration inputs from the concerned executive agencies.
If passed, the DMWOF will be responsible for formulating, recommending and implementing policies, plans, programs and guidelines to protect overseas Filipinos, including OFWs, as well as promote their interests and resolve issues concerning them in a timely and effective manner.