Sen. Cynthia Villar leads this year’s Pusong OFW Awardees given by the Blas F. Ople Policy Center and Training Institute (or Ople Center) to individuals and institutions that have shown dedicated service in protecting and promoting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers, especially those in distress or emergency situations.
The Ople Center will confer the “Pusong OFW Award” to four government executives, a private lawyer, and an embassy during the Annual Happy OFW Christmas party that will be held at Club Filipino, San Juan City on Dec. 16. The criteria used in selecting the awardees include testimonials of distressed OFWs as well as the Center’s experience in tapping these partners for the rights and welfare of Filipino migrant workers.
“As we celebrate the joy of the season and bid goodbye to the year 2014, we want to give due recognition and appreciation to our partners in and outside the government who have looked after the needs and problems of our OFWs over and beyond the call of their duties,” Susan Ople, head of the Center, said.
“On behalf of our OFWs and their families, we are once again giving out these modest awards as our way of letting them know that their efforts have not gone unnoticed but instead are fondly appreciated,” she added.
This year’s recipients of the “Pusong OFW Award” will be formally conferred during the Happy OFW Christmas Party event on Tuesday, from 2 to 6 PM, at Club Filipino in Greenhills, San Juan where around 300-500 OFWs and their families come together for fun and solidarity.
The awardees are:
- Senator Cynthia A. Villar, a servant leader and a consistent OFW champion in the Senate who through the Villar SIPAG Foundation where she is the managing director never tires in helping distressed OFWs with repatriation and livelihood assistance;
- Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, an innovative leader who brought about the digital transformation of the POEA into a more OFW-friendly agency through the online Balik-Manggagawa system and PEOS online project;
- DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis who is responsible for making passport services more accessible through partnerships with malls and LGUs as well as for risking his life numerous times to spearhead the rescue and repatriation of OFWs including those in Iraq, Syria and Libya upon orders of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs;
- Justice Undersecretary in charge of the Interagency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) Jose Vicente Salazar, a consensus-builder whose results-based approach to IACAT programs and services resulted in concrete gains in the fight against human trafficking;
- Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)’s former Social Welfare Attaché to Malaysia Bernard Bonina, an action man who was unrelenting in securing the safe release and immediate return of OFWs caught in human trafficking situations;
- Reynaldo Robles of the Chan Robles and Associates Law Firm, a caring and highly competent lawyer who extended pro-bono help to distressed OFWs including a victim of sexual harassment by a high-ranking Filipino diplomat in Kuwait; and
- The Embassy of The Kingdom of the Netherlands, a global partner and reliable supporter of the Philippines in its efforts to fight human trafficking and in caring for the welfare of OFWs in The Netherlands, including Filipino seafarers.
Previously, the Ople Center had honored some personalities in the public and private sectors in appreciation for exemplary deeds in protecting and promoting the welfare of OFWs and their families. Among those who were given the Pusong OFW awards were Vice President and Presidential Adviser on OFW Affairs Jejomar Binay, Pag-IBIG through Alex Aguilar, vice-president, I-Remit’s chief executive Bansan Choa, hotelier James Concepcion, and Saudi-based OFWs Joseph Espiritu, founder of Patnubay, and Jebee “Kenji” Solis, as founder and leader of PEBA.
This year’s awarding ceremony coincides with the annual Happy OFW Christmas party which is supported by Microsoft, I-Remit, Kammpi, Globe Telecom, Asialink Finance Corporation, and Vista Land Corporation, with media partners, namely: Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, Rappler. DZXL Bantay OFW and DWIZ Global Pinoy. The event is being staged with the help of event organizer, Vertical Parallel, Inc.
With the theme “Connecting OFW Families,” this year’s Happy OFW Christmas party focuses on the invaluable role and contribution modern technology has played in keeping OFWs with their families connected.
Ople Center is a non-governmental organization that assists distressed OFWs with repatriation, counseling and legal aid and offers livelihood, leadership and personality development, and other training programs.
It represents the OFW sector in the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking and in the Presidential Taskforce Against Illegal Recruitment while advocating the passage of meaningful legislation on migration and other labor issues. (30)