OFW FAMILY PARTY-LIST
March 5, 2014
CLARIFICATIONS REGARDING HOUSE BILL NO. 3576
This is to clarify some information regarding House Bill No. 3576: AN ACT AUTHORIZING AMBASSADORS, CONSUL GENERALS, CHIEFS OF MISSIONS OR CHARGE D’ AFFAIRS TO ORDER AND DIRECT AN OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKER (OFW) TO SEND SUPPORT TO HIS OR HER LEGAL DEPENDENTS AS REQUIRED BY EXISTING LAWS also known as “Protection for Abandoned OFW Families Act”. It appears that there have been some misconceptions and misinformation about the aforementioned Act making the rounds on some social media sites. Pleased be advised of the following:
House Bill No. 3576 was designed to help abandoned OFW families in the Philippines and was not intended to be general in application. It was borne out of the numerous documented complaints that our office has received by children of OFWs who have stopped going to school, going to bed with an empty stomach, deprived of proper medical care due to lack of resources, being evicted from the house they are renting, ostracized in the neighborhood, etc., due to the neglect and abandonment by their OFW parent.
The authority given to the ambassadors, et al, to withhold the renewal of passports do not take effect UNLESS there is a verified complaint of non support from the abandoned dependents in the Philippines. In other words, the “proof of remittance” will only be required to be submitted by the OFW who is the subject of the complaint after being given due process and after sufficient proof that he/she has been negligent in providing support to his/her family.
The proposed law does NOT ‘mandate’ nor ‘require’ all OFWs to remit money or submit proof of remittance as a requirement for passport renewal. It is on a case-to-case basis and limited to erring and irresponsible OFW parents who have been proven to deliberately neglect their family in the Philippines. It does NOT cover all OFWs in general.
The support provision in the bill is simply a reiteration of existing laws particularly the Family Code of the Philippines. The only thing new in this bill is the authority given to the Ambassadors, et al, to take a direct hand in facilitating the complaint. The OFW’s dependents may still seek legal remedies by filing appropriate cases of non support in court, however, this would take up so much time and resources which are luxuries that abandoned children do not have as their needs are continuous and immediate. Therefore, this bill proposes to empower our embassy officials to act on complaints as swiftly as possible.
The OFW Family Party-List is the Representative of the OFWs AND their families. The party is concerned not only of the welfare and protection of the OFWs but also their family as well, especially the abandoned children. We believe that most of our OFWs are responsible and are not remiss in their duties and obligations to his/her family, therefore they have no reason to worry about this proposed law. This house bill is still in its early stages and will be scheduled for public hearing so that interested parties may submit their position paper and air their concerns.