THE SENATE in a statement said it has approved today on third and final reading a bill which would mandate the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to publish and disseminate a standard handbook on the rights and responsibilities of Filipino migrant workers.

“We want to equip our OFWs with the necessary information they can access once they are out there in the global marketplace,” said Senator Emmanuel D. Pacquiao, the author of Senate Bill No. 192, or the “Handbook for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) Act.”

He added that the proposed handbook would be a “convenient” reference that would inform OFWs about their rights and responsibilities, teach them what recourses they have when they face common difficult situations abroad, and provide them with a directory of relevant government agencies.

For his part, Senator Joel Villanueva, co-author of the bill and chair of the Senate committee on labor, employment, and human resources development, said: “In the face of increasing number of abuses against OFWs, perhaps, we can go back to the basics by equipping our workers abroad with the right information at the right time and in the right way.”

Senate President Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III and Senator Richard J. Gordon also served as co-authors of the measure, through which the POEA would be mandated “to develop, publish, disseminate and update periodically a handbook on the rights and responsibilities of migrant workers as provided by Philippine laws and the existing labor and social laws of the receiving country that will protect and guarantee the rights of migrant workers.”

“The handbook shall be written in simple words than can be easily understood with translation in local language as may be necessary,” the bill said, adding that the handbook should be issued to all Filipino migrant workers “free of charge.”