A lawyer, popular for his advocacy work in the Filipino community, said authorities should consider opening a lounge at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). He said the current set-up where OFWs are referred to a separate lane and left to take long queues is not consistent with the much ballyhooed reference to them as modern-day heroes.
“Di ba Philippine passport holders din ang mga OFWs? Bakit kami kailangang gawan ng sariling pila? Ok lang kung may pribiliheyo gaya halimbawa ng para sa mga senior citizen na kaya hinihiwalay ay para mas mapabilis ang serbisyo,” said Atty. Barney Almazar, lead author of the handbook, “Essential OFW Guide to UAE.”
Atty. Barney Almazar
Almazar noted that there are NAIA lanes and counters for diplomatic, foreign and regular Philippine passport holders, “tapos merong OFW lane.”
“Ano ba ang tsinetske ninyo sa OFWs na hindi nyo tsinetsek sa mga regular Philippine passport holders? Nase-segregate ang OFW na di ka naman dapat. Alam ko pag sinegregate ka ikaw yung parang tinitingala (gaya ng) yung business class,” Almazar said. “Nagkaruon na ng kultura na i-look down ang OFWs. Bakit ganun? Pare-pareho naman kaming passport holders?”
The lawyer said airport personnel should immediately open another lane when the queue starts getting long. Better yet, he said, open a lounge where OFWs will be escorted to and made to wait for their papers.
“Deretso ka na dyan… meron kang OFW lounge. Pwede bang gawin sa ating OFWs yan?
Asked for comments, Labor Attaché Ophelia Almenario said that while she doesn’t want to jump the gun on the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA) home office which should decide on the matter, the idea of having an OFW lounge sits well with her.
“Ayaw kong pangunahan ang OWWA at home office (of the Depatrment of Labor and Employment). Walang problema sa akin ‘yan,” she told The Filipino Times.