And designating OFW Wards in public hospitals
SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go highlighted the critical importance of Senate Bill No. 2414, known as the “OFW Ward Act,” in addressing the healthcare needs of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families.
Alongside his healthcare initiatives, Go, also expressed his support for the establishment of OFW lounges at international airports across the country.
“Mayroon tayong bill na layuning maglalagay po ng OFW Ward sa bawat DOH hospital para may sariling ward po na dedicated sa kanila,” he stated in an ambush interview on September 21 after attending the groundbreaking ceremony for the Super Health Center in San Mateo, Rizal.
If passed into law, every hospital under the Department of Health (DOH) across the country will have a specialized ward for OFWs and their family members who require hospitalization.
The DOH will decide the bed capacity for these OFW Wards, taking into account the concentration of OFWs in the local community that the hospital serves. Go also discussed the ongoing operations of the OFW Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga.
“‘Yung pinangarap natin na magkaroon sila ng sariling ospital naisakatuparan po ito, nandidyan po sa San Fernando, Pampanga may sarili na silang ospital, at mayroon na rin silang Malasakit Center dyan sa OFW Hospital,” he added.
The OFW Hospital, a donation from the provincial government of Pampanga, commenced its operations in May 2022.
It consists of six floors and can accommodate 100 beds, primarily intended for the use of OFWs and their eligible dependents.
Go has also filed Senate Bill No. 2297, seeking to institutionalize the OFW Hospital and ensure its continuous operation.
The bill aims to improve healthcare services for OFWs and their families by strengthening the existing facility and allocating necessary funds for its maintenance and operation.
Go was also one of the authors and co-sponsors of the Senate version of Republic Act No. 11641 which created the Department of Migrant Workers.
The law streamlined the organization and functions of all government agencies related to overseas employment and migration through the creation of the DMW.
The DMW serves as a one-stop-shop for both documented and undocumented OFWs, offering services from pre-employment to reintegration. In addition to healthcare, Go also expressed his support for the proposal to establish OFW lounges at international airports across the Philippines.
“Of course, suportado natin ito,” said Go. “Noong panahon ni dating pangulong (Rodrigo) Duterte, naglagay nga po tayo ng heroes lounge para po sa mga sundalo natin at kapulisan na nagbuwis ng buhay, nagsasakripisyo sa gyera sa Marawi noon pa. Ngayon naman po, suportado ko ito kung saka-sakaling maglalagay ng OFW lounge para sa ating mga OFWs. Bakit hindi?” he added.
Go emphasized the importance of recognizing OFWs as “modern day heroes,” asserting that they deserve dedicated spaces where they can rest, both in hospitals and airports.
“More than 10 million overseas Filipinos po nagsasakripisyo, nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa para may maisuporta sa kanilang pamilya. Bigyan po natin sila ng importansya parati,” he said.
The initial proposal for OFW lounges was introduced by Representative Marissa Magsino through House Resolution No. 1305. The lounges are designed to offer essential amenities during flight delays or cancellations, providing a comfortable environment for OFWs to rest and rearrange their flight schedules.
“So, sang-ayon po ako kung maglagay po ng OFW lounge sa ating mga airport kung saan po pwede silang makapagpahinga, disenteng makapagpahinga sila,” concluded Go.