(File photo)

MANILA – The number of government programs that were implemented to ensure the well-being of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) proved that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the father of migrant workers, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said on Friday.

“There is no doubt President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) President, the father of OFWs. He is the President who really gave a comprehensive directive to help protect our OFWs,” OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Among these are the establishment of the first OFW hospital in the country, the OFW Bank, and the creation of the Department of Migrant Workers.

“Of course, there are also OWWA programs. I’m proud to say that our direct payment beneficiaries have increased 200 to 250 percent here in our OWWA programs. That is, in livelihood, scholarship, medical, calamity assistance, death and disability, and other OWWA programs are 200 to 250 increase as compared to the previous administrations that received the money right into their hands from OWWA,” Cacdac said.

He added that scholarships for OFWs' dependents were strengthened under the Duterte administration.

“Our scholarships that were extended during the time of President Duterte in partnership with CHED (Commission on Higher Education) increased our new OWWA scholars by 100 percent due to the programs inaugurated by the President and (Labor) Secretary Silvestre Bello III,” he added.

The Duterte administration also assisted and brought to their home provinces some 1,030,000 OFWs that were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We provided food assistance, quarantine assistance, and transport assistance during Covid-19 and our programs continue, providing assistance to those affected by the pandemic. We also provided cash assistance to distressed returning OFWs returning,” Cacdac said.

Under Duterte's term, he also said the Philippines signed labor accords with host countries such as Kuwait, Israel, and Germany.

“And then, of course, our Asean Consensus, Comprehensive agreement at the Asean Summit hosted by President Duterte in 2017, the Asean Consensus on the Protection of Migrant Workers Across Southeast Asia,” he said.

Cacdac also reported that the beneficiaries of the agency's welfare services have also increased by at least 30 percent.

“That means we have served more OFWs. On an annual average, we help about 120,000 OFWs a year onsite. There’s no question that in the Duterte administration a very important foundation has been built in terms of extending programs,” he added. (PNA)