Philippine labor officials address overseas workers’ concerns on temporary work visa ban, HIV infections

Philippine labor officials were in Los Angeles last week to meet with the Filipino community and to give updates on labor-related issues.

Among the issues discussed during a town-hall at the Philippine consulate was the work visa ban for U.S- based Filipinos, and the growing number of HIV infections among Filipino workers.

Philippine labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III, overseas workers welfare administration’s Hans Leo Cacdac and Philippine overseas employment administration’s Bernard Olalia, spent Friday in Los Angeles to meet with the Filipino community and to give updates on labor-related issues.

Their visit comes as many overseas Filipinos have high hopes and concerns, especially after the midterm elections.

“We’re looking forward to a good working relation, between the president and legislative department… one thing we have to accomplish is the infrastructure program of the president he has done all the social economic programs what we need now is the build build build infrastructure program and we need the backing of Congress for the appropriate budget allocation.”

Among the issues mentioned during a town hall at the Philippine consulate — the reduction in certain work visas for U.S. bound Filipino workers, with the recent ban by the trump administration on the Philippines from acquiring H-2B or temporary work visas due to issues of over-staying.

Bello says this isn’t a concern anymore considering ongoing infrastructure initiatives in the Philippines, that opens up more job opportunities giving OFWs a chance to work and stay home

“Whe president wants you back, hahaha thats why he came up with this build build build infrastructure program so ngayon lahat ng kababayn natin pwede na bumalik, dahil meron na trabaho para sa kanila. In fact moron na kami partial ban on deployment of construction workers. Kasi nakaka shortage tayo sa construction workers dahlia sa dami ng infrastructure program. Kayo ma wala kayo trabaho dito hwuag kayo mata bili balik sa atin. Ang dami trabaho available.”

The growing number of HIV infections among Filipinos has also prompted international concerns. OFWs are estimated to make up 10 percent of those infected with AIDS.

“The approach here is to coordinate overseas with the DFA and also health authorities of the host countries in terms of treatment number 1 and number 2 if they are ready to come home coordination in terms of transport and when they do come home, coordination with the doh in terms of facilities, public health facilities for the concerned offs and of course support.”

Bello told the community about an upcoming free health facility for OFWs that he says will be vital as the government tries to deal with the HIV issue among OFWs.

“Considering the servicing our OFWs for free, it will not only be a preventive but curative remedy for our overseas workers.”

Belo also adds that the labor department will have attaches in the U.S., one the east coast and one on the west coast to address labor concerns.

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