Diagnosing Filipino Superheroes: Are our OFWs Healthy and Safe?

Aug. 25, 2019

According to the 2018 Survey on Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from April to September 2018 released last April 2019 revealed an estimated 2.3 million OFWs. This also spells a total of 235.9 billion pesos of remittances sent home to the Philippines during the same period.

These figures could very well explain how valuable the OFWs, not only their families but to the country’s economy as well. As remittances augment if not salvage, a government deeply dependent on foreign and local debt to run the country’s affairs while its own economy remains backward and pre-industrialized.

Thus, they are called our Filipino Superheroes. Only a couple of million OFW’s reviving an economy of more than a hundred million people and counting.

But what is more disturbing is the sad reality of OFWs suffering from different dilemma. Imagine the various physical and mental health issues they encounter resulting from bad working conditions, abuse, mental stress, discrimination and among others.

A case for example of a Filipina working in Saudi Arabia who sought help though a social media platform because of her bad situation. She did not detail her condition in her social media post but only revealed that she is losing the will to live because of her predicament.

Another OFW reported to have suffered a rare disease, and another jump off from a building to escape from abusive employers. Some sleeping in small rooms. Others sent to jail by employers. Many are suffering from stress if not depression, missing their families and loved one’s miles away.

These are only vignettes of many other cases ranging from simple to complicated situations of OFWs — Sarah Balagan, etc…to name a few.

There are cases that are documented, and perhaps, many are not.

It seems that the government, through its offices or agencies like OWWA have collaboratively mastered so far how to successfully and safely send Filipinos abroad to work. Efforts perhaps are already there to create separate agency such as the department of OFW, that will ensure the welfare and well-being of the OFW. I hope this address the root-caused of the rotten system of recruitment, health disparity among others.

There must be a way to look after our OFWs working hard abroad not only for their respective families but for our country as well.

Why can’t we delegate an OFW health attache in every Philippine embassy? Or in particular an OFW attache that focuses on monitoring the physical and mental conditions not only when there’s already a problem. Are they also part of the Universal Health Care coverage?

Time for a Filipino Avenger? Or Infinity stones to solve their problems?

Maybe not. They need prompt help and ample assistance from our government that is benefiting from their sweats and hard work.

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