>OFWs occupy soft spot in Bohol Congressman Chatto’s heart


OFWs occupy soft spot in Chatto’s heart 
Rep. Edgar Chatto’s concern for the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) was widely recognized and appreciated by the sector whose remittances help keep the economy afloat.
Making no bones of his bias to OFWs because they occupied a soft spot in his heart, sources in the local business community even remarked it was no exaggeration that this  in itself was Chatto’s  way of contributing to the economy.
But the Bohol congressman’s indelible imprint on the lives of the migrant workers was his rescue of the OFWs in critical condition, even the dangers of imminent death.
He had caused the release from foreign jails of OFWs who were falsely charged, oftentimes by their cruel masters and employers, with crimes and offenses they had not committed.
Chatto facilitated the repatriation of many OFWs who had long been hiding or safekept after running away from their tyrant employers.
Boholana maids who were abused in all forms, including rape and torture, in certain Middle East domains found Chatto their liberator from suffering.
In some cases, dead OFWs remained frozen in their alien job sites for several months for foreign authorities’ refusal to repatriate the lifeless workers while investigations were going on.
The mere thought of having dead loved ones in foreign lands waiting to be claimed and transported back home for final rest and eternal peace was simply agonizing to their families.  
Chatto had them finally flown—cold and boxed, or, sometimes, in ashes following cremation—to Bohol without their families spending a cent.
There lives were not wasted because of their distant employment’s impacts on the both the lives of their dependents and the economy.
The sprouting of banks and express money channels and the flourishing currency exchange business in Bohol could suggest the flowing remittances from Boholano workers abroad.
The OFWs substantially sustain their families and support the education of their children or brothers and sisters, even relatives.
Many of them have invested their earnings in the local business, thereby helping generate jobs for their fellow Boholanos.
In partnership with concerned agencies like the Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Chatto initiated a livelihood development program for the OFWs and their families or dependents.
Chatto has established the weekly radio program segment OFW Action Line to bridge the OFWs and their loved ones back home.
Aired on DYRD and DYTR and heard worldwide via Internet every Saturday, the radio program at the same time educates the potential OFWs.
In Congress, Chatto vehemently lobbied for the Magna Carta for the OFWs.  He pushed for the law improving the standards of protection and assistance for migrant workers.
He amended Republic Act 8042, the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, to mandate for free compulsory insurance for the OFWs so that they could get monetary claims or claims for damages resulting from court decisions or case settlements.
There are volumes of concerns presently handled by Chatto’s office, which has a special desk for OFWs.
They include requests for assistance for repatriation because of ailments and maltreatment, return of dead bodies, dependents’ claims for insurance and benefits from OWWA and SSS for dead OFWs, location of “missing” OFWs, recovery from her agency of the documents of a nurse who failed to work abroad, and a family’s claim for monthly allotment not remitted by the agency, which also failed to remit the Philhealth contribution of the OFW.
Just days ago, a pregnant domestic helper cried while she personally thanked Chatto for facilitating her safe repatriation from Singapore.  She feared of miscarriage because of abdominal pains caused by overwork there.  The father of the child she conceives is her husband.
Last year, Chatto rescued three Filipina migrant workers, all not Boholanas, who were forced to drugs and prostitution in Malaysia.
Probably one of Chatto’s most dramatic acts of saving OFWs involves a domestic helper in Jordan who almost died of cardiac arrest while in stopover at an airport in Bangkok, Thailand two years ago.  
The female OFW, who hails from Dimiao, was on her way back home for Christmas but the near-fatal heart attack at the foreign airport had rendered her comatose.  The surgeons would not operate her unless someone could guarantee payment of some P1.3 million.
The Philippine ambassador to Thailand managed to recall having met a “congressman from Bohol” in an international tourism event there years back.  He quickly contacted Chatto for assistance.
Chatto moved fast to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office in Manila to grant him the amount so that the Boholana might live.  
The PCSO people were hesitant because the amount was too huge, causing Chatto to threaten to personally go to the president.  The PCSO board thus quickly convened and yielded to Chatto’s pleading.   
It was reportedly unprecedented since no such financial aid had ever been granted to a critical OFW before.
Her skull was opened in the crucial surgery.  She was saved from death.  A part of her scalp has been implanted on the side of her abdomen to keep it “alive” until it is returned to its original place in another operation.
Just late last year, Chatto visited a barangay in Dimiao when a woman in her 20s approached and embraced him like a child who finally found her long lost father.  She was that OFW. (Ven rebo Arigo) 

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