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09/08/2011: Embassy Continues to Assist Maryland Teachers

09 August 2011, Washington DC. Philippine Embassy officials attended yesterday another meeting with representatives of Filipino teachers in Prince George’s County to find a solution to the impasse over the renewal of their visas.

The concerns of the eight million Filipinos abroad remain a priority of the administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III.  Upon assuming office in July 2010, one of the President’s first instructions was for concerned departments and agencies to be even more responsive to the needs and welfare of overseas Filipino workers.

This year alone massive repatriation efforts of OFWs were undertaken in war-torn areas, including Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, as well as in tsunami-hit Japan.  Secretary Albert del Rosario barely warmed his seat at the Foreign Affairs Department when he personally led the evacuation of Filipinos out of Tripoli.

It is the Aquino administration’s policy that jobs would be created at home so Filipinos will no longer have to look for employment abroad.  In this year’s State of the Nation Address, the President even praised workers who opted to stay in the Philippines, citing the sacrifices they are also making.

The Embassy has monitored the case of the Prince George’s Country teachers from the beginning and continues to explore ways on how to help them.  The Embassy’s efforts have been led by Labor Attache Luzviminda Padilla, who has met with the teachers on a number of occasions.  Assistance has also been extended to the affected teachers in referring them to legal counsel.  Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., himself, has made written and personal appeals to concerned officials on the matter.

The Embassy has also brought the issue to the attention of the country’s highest officials.  During the commemoration of the 113th anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence, which was held at the Philippine Embassy last June 12, Vice President Jejomar Binay noted the predicament of the teachers and cited the efforts of those who have supported and extended help to them.

Last July 14, a forum was organized by the Embassy to bring together relevant parties and explain all possible options, so the teachers can make an informed judgment on the proper course of action to take.  The event gathered representatives from a number of Filipino-American associations to rally behind the teachers and give them their full support.

While the Embassy has repeatedly made representations with Philippine authorities for the appropriation of funds to cover the legal expenses of the teachers, there is no assurance that such funding will be provided.

Despite the government’s limited resources, the Embassy is fully committed to the welfare of all overseas Filipino workers and shall continue to do its utmost to fulfill its mandate of protecting their rights abroad.  END