A senator proposed to give overseas Filipino workers (OFW) VIP lounges at airports in the country.
This was stated by Senator Raffy Tulfo during a hearing of the Senate committee on migrant workers discussing Senate Bill 2077, also known as the Balikbayan Hub Act, which seeks to provide sleeping quarters, showers, restrooms, and complimentary food and drink for OFWs.
“Alisin na kaya natin ‘yung mga VIP lounge na ‘yan? Sino ba ‘yung mga VIP na dapat uupo doon, pupunta doon? Imbis na mga VIP lounge na ‘yan na ang lalaki, eh bakit hindi na lang natin i-convert sa OFW lounge mga ‘yun?” says Senator Tulfo.
The senator claimed that VIP lounges were “unnecessary.”
“Kasi ‘yung mga VIP can afford naman sila kumuha ng Mabuhay Lounge, ‘di ba? Can afford naman silang dumating ng late kasi nga VIP naman sila. Kung minsan iniintay pa ng eroplano. Eh, ‘yung mga OFWs natin pumupunta nang maaga tapos nade-delayed ‘yung flights. Nate-tengga sila dyan sa paligid-ligid,” the senator explained.
Senior Assistant General Manuel Gonzales, OIC of the Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA), thinks the senator’s proposition is wise.
“I will discuss it with management, sir. Hopefully— talagang maganda po ‘yung inyong recommendation po, Mr. Chair,” the official said.
Gonzales noted that the MIAA and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are drafting a memorandum of understanding to establish a hub at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
In NAIA Terminal 3, OWWA Administrator Arnel Ignacio stated that they want OFWs to have a space to hang out. According to them, P7 million has been set aside for the restoration.
“Para naman maging at par with the lounges of the other airlines. Of course, this can still be increased if the need arises,” ani Ignacio.
“We want the OFWs to experience how VIPs are treated in the lounges of international airlines. Doon po kasi, merong kumpleto— Tuloy-tuloy ang pagkain, may shower, may prayer room… yes, breastfeeding room, meron po,” the official added.
On the other hand, the officer in charge of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac, asked that all kinds of OFWs be included in the proposal.
“Isang recommendation din po namin, Mr. Senator, kasi dito po sa bill nakalagay pang active contracts pero meron po kasing OFWs na distressed or na-terminate ‘yung contracts so baka pwede sila isama sa saklaw nung bill,” Cacdac said.
Additionally, he reaffirmed that the DMW is “willing, competent, and ready” to put the Balikbayan Hub Act into effect whenever it is passed into law.