Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the tragic death of 10 OFWs in a helicopter crash in Kandahar, Afghanistan should convince the government to ensure that Filipino citizens are not deployed to countries where the peace and order situation remains volatile.
"I was of the belief that there was a ban on deploying workers to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Nigeria. And yet, it seems many are able to land jobs in these countries, despite the risks involved in going and working there" he noted.
Escudero said the uncertain circumstances surrounding the hiring of the 10 bring up speculations of illegal deployment to facilitate their employment right under the noses of government officials.
"It is not enough to just clamp down on illegal recruiters or impose stricter controls at immigration counters. We must also ensure that laws concerning the entry of OFWs to a number of countries are observed," he said.
Since there are at least 12 million OFWs in 190 countries, Escudero called on the government to provide more funding to all Philippine embassies and consulates so that they can attend to the needs of all Filipinos.
"We must ensure that our embassies and consulates have enough funds and personnel to react to all possible situations. More importantly, we must empower them to prevent the abuse of our workers," Escudero said.
He also said foreign offices should identify the comparative advantages of OFWs vis-a-vis the country to which they are assigned.
"This is important so we can specifically target the skills required by the host nation in order to be able to send the best qualified OFW."
Remittances last year from OFWs, which make up around 11 percent of the Philippine population, totaled $15.9 billion, more than 50 percent higher than $10 billion in 2005.