A law creating a new charter for the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) was signed by President Aquino.
Republic Act 10801 or the OWWA Act will define the functions of the agency, its board of trustees and its secretariat and the uses of its trust fund. It will also protect the interest and welfare of OFWs from providing assistance to emergency situations to financing projects for overseas workers and their families.
The new law will enact the following which will benefit the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families:
- Enhances the reintegration program of the government for displaced OFWs who chooses to return home.
- Establish clear-cut guidelines for the procedure for OWWA membership registration and renewal.
- Ensure transparency in the utilization and management of OWWA funds.
- Mandates the agency to maintain an interactive website to gather OFW feedback, comments, suggestions and complaints on existing programs and services.
- Ensure the agency’s operative budget to support full protection of OFW welfare.
Overseas Filipino workers will also have more representation in the board as there will be 7 seats for them to be comprised of two nominated and appointed representatives each from land-based and sea-based OFWs, and one each from the women, land-based recruitment, and sea-based manning sectors.
An OFW automatically becomes a member upon payment of the $25 contribution, either compulsary or voluntarily, and will be active until the OFW’s existing contract expires or after two years from contract effectivity, whichever comes first.
The law also orders that contributions to OWWA fund must be paid by the employer or by the recruitment agency in case of new hires. Failure to comply will result to cancellation of license and banned from recruitment of overseas workers.