LABOR Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas urged the different non-government organizations (NGO’s) to help the government instead of accusing it of neglecting overseas Filipino workers (OFW).

“Let us not point at anybody. Instead let us work together to solve the problem at hand,” Sto. Tomas said.

The symposium “30 years of Philippine Labor Migration: What’s Next?,” conducted by the Scalabrinian Missionaries in Asia last Sept. 8 at the St. Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, tackled sensitive issues concerning Filipino migrants, such as the Absentee Voting Bill and projects by the government for the betterment of Filipinos’ workers’ condition abroad.

According to Sto. Tomas, the Department of Labor and Employment is trying to keep the migration of Filipinos abroad under check. She added that there is a plan to help Filipinos acquire proper documentation to legalize their stay.

“It is better for us to aid them in getting the proper documentation than come to this situation (Sabah deportation) in the end,” She explained.

Other speakers included Ellene Sana, advocacy officer of Kakampi, an NGO that is lobbying for the Absentee Voting Bill to give the OFW’s the right to vote abroad, and Fr. Graziano Battistella of the Scalabrini Migration Center.

Sana said Filipinos working and residing overseas should have rights equal with Filipinos living here so that OFW absentee voting should be allowed.

On the other hand, Battistella tackled emerging global issues on migrants and racial discrimination. He also commented on the role of the Church on the migrants’ lives.

“The Church should have a vibrant role in the migrants’ lives. It should give them a place of refuge away from home,” he said.

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