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Edmund Ruga, program coordinator of the CBCP’s Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

MANILA, July 17, 2013—Despite government’s effort to fast track the resolution of the controversial sex-for-flight scandal involving embassy officials preying on hapless overseas Filipino workers, still the government remains zero in resolving family issues surrounding migrant workers, a Church worker for migrants said.

Edmund Ruga, program coordinator of the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People (ECMI) of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said the government has to exert more efforts in helping OFWs and their families especially those in distress.

In a media forum held recently at the historic Aristocrat restaurant, Ruga expressed concern over the government’s inaction to address family issues of migrant workers and to create a favorable environment for OFWs and their families.

“We haven’t seen totally the direction or the consistent direction of the government in terms of handling issues and concerns of migration particularly on issues of migrant workers on site and at the same time on families here in the Philippines,” Ruga said in the vernacular at the forum dubbed ‘Tapatan sa Aristocrat’.

He reiterated that the government should find a way to strike an accord with host countries so OFWs would be given the opportunity to work and also bring their family with them.

In most surveys, marital and family issues top the list of problems of OFWs. Communication gap and psychosocial problems of children, gap in the relationship among spouses and extramarital relations, over-dependency of the families on remittances sent, growing extravagant lifestyles, overindulgence and consumerism of children and of other members of the family are among the problems caused by overseas migration.

Despite reports of improving economy the upward trend of labor migration shows Filipinos are still desperate and wondering where the next meal would come from. This eventually increases the need to address social concerns.

Ruga added that they hope the present government will finally address the social concerns of migrant workers and that it will be part of President Aquino’s State of the Nation Address on July 22 despite his silence on the subject in the previous SONAs.

“We were unable to hear [about] it in the previous State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) and we might not hear anything again in this SONA,” said Ruga. (Paul De Guzman)