By Argyll Cyrus Geducos
President Duterte has signed Republic Act (RA) No. 11227 which compels the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to create a handbook for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
The Handbook for OFWs Act of 2018, or the consolidated Senate Bill No. 192 and House Bill No. 8110, was signed by Duterte on February 22, a copy of which was provided to Malacañang reporters Saturday.
Under the new law, the POEA is required to develop, publish, disseminate, and update a handbook which will contain the rights and responsibilities of OFWs.
The handbook will be in English with translations in local languages. It will be given to OFWs for free whether they are sea-based or land-based.
The handbook is aimed at empowering and making OFWs aware of their rights and responsibilities, and gives them basic information on the labor and living conditions of the country of their destination.
The POEA, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Foreign Affairs (DFA) are mandated to promote the welfare and rights of Filipinos working abroad.
The law mandates the DOLE to make sure that labor and social welfare laws in the foreign countries are fairly applied to migrant workers and whenever applicable, to other overseas Filipinos, including the grant of legal assistance and the referral to proper medical centers or hospitals.
The POEA, meanwhile, is to update the said handbook. The amount needed to continuously publish, distribute, and update the handbook will be taken from the appropriations of the POEA.
On the other hand, the POEA will also implement an intensified program against illegal recruitment activities, in cooperation with other law enforcement agencies.
Other agencies mandated to implement the new law are the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) and the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).