Cacdac up to the job of DMW OIC

    The appointment of Undersecretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac as Officer-in-Charge (OIC) of the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is a move in the right direction.

    He knows the job well like the back of his hand since he has been involved with issues on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) all these years.

    Before President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Jr. appointed him as DMW OIC, Cacdac served as the department’s undersecretary for welfare and foreign employment. Earlier, he also served as deputy administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and administrator of the Overseas Workers Employment Administration (OWWA).

    He was undersecretary for labor relations in 2010 of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

    On his appointment, he issued this simple statement:  ”With  humility, I take on the designation as the Department of Migrant  Workers Officer-in-Charge.” He added, “I assume this role on a somber note, as it follows the passing of a dear friend, Secretary Susan ‘Toots’ Ople. Having worked with her for nearly two decades to help distressed and trafficked OFWs, Sec. Toots’ friendship and legacy shall shine brightly within me for as long as I live.”

    Cacdac intends to continue what the late Secretary Toots Ople started in promoting the interests and welfare of OFWs.

    “Guided by her work ethic and the directions she took the department to in the brief time she was at its helm, we will move forward and persevere diligently; we bear the honest belief that our President’s love for and overwhelming mandate from OFWs is an opportunity to develop and implement programs that shall better serve and protect them,” he said.

    The priorities Cacdac hopes to address include getting the proposed P15.542 billion expenditure program (the proposed DMW 2024 budget) approved by lawmakers; and strengthening the One Repatriation Command Center (ORRC) and the anti-illegal recruitment and human trafficking efforts, as well as provide legal, medical and humanitarian assistance through the P1.2 billion AKSYON Fund.

   Cacdac also aims to continue the organization and building of the department through the establishment of proposed regional centers and four additional Migrant Workers Offices (MWOs) overseas, as well as the filling of nearly 1,000 plantilla positions at the DMW.

    The OIC plans to enhance “our full cycle reintegration program for OFWs providing a fitting cap to their overseas labor journey and continuing engagements with host countries and entering  into new more equitable bilateral arrangements that assure the rights and promotion of the welfare of OFWs.

    The implementation and realization of such plans can be expected if Cacdac’s track record is taken into consideration.

   He had been involved in helping distressed OFWs, including domestic helpers (DHs) undergoing unfortunate experiences in foreign lands.

     Whenever retired career Ambassador Rafael E. Seguis referred to him a case, he worked fast and diligently to solve it.

    Seguis, who served the Philippines in the Middle East (Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Iran and Egypt), referred to Cacdac a case involving Novie Ramos Peralta, a DH whose Kuwait employer was Nayef Mohammad Alajni.

    Alajni’s wife, Noura, a Saudi, took a vacation in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, bringing Novie along as her servant.

    A week after her arrival in Jeddah, Novie requested Internet access so she could communicate with her family in the Philippines.

   But her request was turned down, resulting in a heated verbal exchange between her and Noura, who reportedly kicked and hit the Filipino with a hard object that left bruises on different parts of Novie’s body—face, ear, hands and back.

   Novie complained to friends and coworkers in Riyadh—Annie H. Fajardo and Catrina Dize. She sent a video showing her crying as she narrated what happened.

    The case was referred to Consul Gary Q. Auxilian, who sent it to Labor Attaché Roel B. Martin who was then in Dubai for a meeting. The Jeddah MWO referred the case to its counterpart in Kuwait City. Nothing happened to the case, however.

     An Ugandan lady worker informed Annie later that Novie was in Najran but the informant could not give an exact location. Then Annie and Catrina learned that Novie had returned to Kuwait. They also received new videos showing bruises on various parts of Novie’s body.

    When Cacdac received these, he ordered the Philippine labor attaché in Kuwait to pull out Novie from her employer. The legal retainer employed at the Kuwait MWO was told to secure a permit from authorities to rescue Novie.

   Informed about the Kuwait MWO’s move, the employer’s wife made the necessary arrangements for Novie’s flight to the Philippines.

    On Aug. 31, Annie and Clarita informed this writer that Novie had arrived in the Philippines.

    The OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) assisted Novie at the airport and made arrangements for her to travel to her home in Tarlac.

    Another case involved Jhonel Andres dela Cruz who was comatose for three days in a hospital in Jeddah. Divina Ballesteros Ramos Tonera, former DH in Najran who also asked to be rescued from her employer last year, referred the case and asked for help.

     She said that Zesanne Dawang, aunt of dela Cruz, would send me a text message regarding the case because she was more familiar with it. Dawang requested for assistance because dela Cruz did not have any relatives in Jeddah to look after his needs.

   The case was referred to Cacdac who promised that the medical bills amounting to SAR 162,000 (P2,575,800) would be paid and dela Cruz would be repatriated if and when he was fit to travel.

    At present, dela Cruz is at the Bahay Kalinga.

    On Dec. 28, 2021, Marjorie Verano Torrefiel, a DH in Najran, left  Saudi Arabia. We also assisted her when she had a problem with her employer.

    On April 29, 2022, she sent a text to MWO asking for help regarding her application for financial assistance from OWWA.

   Seguis referred the case to Cacdac.  Not long after, Marjorie sent a message that the OWWA branch in Region 12 called her and asked her to collect her cheque for P20,000.

    While still the OWWA administrator, Cacdac also exhibited the same concern for OFWs.

   If Cacdac works hard for OFWs, it is understandable. His job does not only call for it but also because his father also became an OFW, a radio operator, to support his family and the education of his son Hans who attended Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Law and the Samford University in Atlanta, Georgia in the United States for his master’s degree in Comparative Law and Labor Law.

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