WASHINGTON, D.C. – Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has vowed to continue pushing for legislative measures that would protect and promote the rights and benefits of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and families in the Philippines.
In her short message read before a group of Filipino immigrants here last Dec. 2, De Lima lauded and thanked them for demonstrating to the whole world the good qualities of Filipino people in various fields of expertise.
“We cannot thank you enough for your sacrifices and for being examples of strength and fortitude of Filipinos to achieve the dreams and hopes of your families. Despite the sorrow of being away from your loved ones and the many challenges you face abroad, you continue to persevere and show your resiliency to succeed,” she said.
“As a Senator, I will continue to push for legislative measures that will protect the welfare of our overseas workers, and institute reforms in the Philippines to ensure a just and more inclusive future for our countrymen,” she added.
In her message, De Lima also thanked the OFWs, including Filipino Americans, for their invaluable contributions not only to the country’s economy through their annual remittances but also through their charitable and social projects.
“Sa inyong sipag, determinasyon at pagpupunyagi para itaguyod ang inyong pamilya, kasamang umaangat ang ekonomiya ng bansa, na nagpapataas din sa kakayahan ng gobyernong magkaloob ng serbisyo-publiko,” she said.
Despite her unjust detention over obviously trumped-up charges, De Lima, who is a known staunch defender of human rights, promised to strive hard in promoting a just and humane society for the benefit not only of the OFWs but also of all her countrymen.
“Simple lang po ang hangad ko: Maimulat ang marami nating kababayan, sa loob at labas ng ating bansa, sa katotohanan, sa marapat na pananagutan ng mga lingkod bayan, sa pangingibabaw ng batas, at paglalatag ng pagkakataon sa sariling bayan. Alam ko pong kaisa ko kayo, at ang bawat marangal na Pilipino, sa laban na ito tungo sa mas maganda at mapayapang kinabukasan,” she said.
The former justice secretary said it is a challenge for her and her fellow lawmakers to push for more legislative measures that would ensure that Filipinos will have more job and economic opportunities in the country to prevent them from going abroad.
“It is also my dream for Filipinos to leave the country not because they are forced to given the lack of opportunities, but because they willingly want to enrich their careers,” she noted.
A strong defender of migrant workers’ rights, De Lima has filed Senate Resolution No. 406 calling for a Senate investigation to assess the adverse impact of Qatar diplomatic crisis to OFWs residing or working in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries.
Last August, she also called for a Senate investigation into the implementation of the newly-launched OFW identification card which many fear will be used as a cash cow for some corrupt government and private entities.