The Case of OFW Roberto Panganiban

THE following nine-year-old letter was written and sent to all OFW Community of Lists as my way of a “Wake Up Call” and am reposting it for the sake of those who didn’t know of the late Roberto Panganiban’s case. My way also of getting some of my written works of old published on this blog. A Petition was created, a few days after the letter went out, demanding for the resignation of the then sitting OWWA head and for the restructuring of OWWA, among a few others, through Concerned OFWs and Friends (COF) egroup.


02/11/08 at 6:58 PM

Dear OFWs in all corners of the world,

Hear me out, PLEASE! –

Roberto Panganiban was a typical OFW. He went to work in Dubai in order to provide the best for his family. During his long years of work abroad, cancer, unfortunately, struck and forced him to go back to the Philippines . As a paying OWWA member, he approached the government body but was refused assistance because, accordingly, cancer is not among those covered by the OWWA insurance. Sadly, Roberto succumbed to cancer very recently without help coming from the government. Francis Oca of Riyadh  wrote to the OWWA head and even to President GMA last September 2007 after Roberto exposed his case over to the Filipino cyber community. Despite those letters, no help was given to Roberto!

What happened to Roberto can happen to anyone of you. And should this really happen, what will you do? Isn’t it high time that you work on making OWWA and other government agencies, at that, more responsive to your needs? Remember that the over 10 billion pesos that OWWA is keeping belong to you. Why not use the fund to serve you better and your needs?

I call on you to act NOW while it is not too late. Rules can always be changed. Why don’t you ask OWWA to change its old policies? Why do you have to put up with a provision that you only get to be assisted by OWWA when you are maimed? Or that you get some small amount of money when you die – but only as a direct cause of accident while at work? Why not ask for OWWA to cover all your needs, your health needs, most importantly? I am sure you are even willing to pay more for as long as you are assured of a sure help when the inevitable happens.

Please heed this call. Strike while the iron is hot. Discuss it among your groups or organizations in your country of work. Lodge a nationwide petition if you have to. And if you are not affiliated at all with any organization or group, endorse the case to any of the NGOs sympathetic to the OFWs like Migrante International, APMM, CMW and others. Or you can join me in the Concerned OFWs and Friends egroup. Here’s the description of the group:

“This is a group of like-minded people working for the betterment of the life of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their dependents. OFWs are now estimated to be around 8 million scattered in over 200 destinations in the world. The Philippine government, which has lately been openly encouraging the Filipinos to work overseas, sadly, runs short of real service to the sector. There is even a perceived notion that the government is only making use of the OFWs as milking cows. For indeed these people have been instrumental in keeping the Philippine economy afloat, funneling billions and billions of funds yearly. In 2006 alone, it was reported that more than US$12-B had been remitted to the Philippines by the OFWs, way above the income generated by the government from other sources.”

I beg of you, do something please?

Freda in Kuwait

An ex-OFW (1987-2002)

A cancer survivor (no thanks to OWWA or any Philippine government body)

Author of the book ‘Overseas Filipino Workers’

ISBN 978-971-93619-1-6

About Author

Freda Editha O. Contreras
Writing is a God-given talent which I try to utilize the good way. I used it as a means to earn a living, my very first job after graduating from college, when I got hired as an Information Writer by the Provincial Government of Antique through Governor Enrique A. Zaldivar in January 1982. By profession, I am a Registered Nurse, and was only able to practice it when I got recruited to work in a private hospital in Kuwait. This was in November 1987 and since then I have been living in Kuwait, now retired since June 2002. Because of my knack in writing I got hired in 1994 to write for Kuwait Times and later became an Editor of 'Pinoy News' a weekly supplement of KT. In March 1996 I published the very first independent Filipino newspaper in Kuwait and the Gulf bannered as Pinoy Expat News or PEN. The paper lasted for only 10 weekly issues. This was followed by another publication and came out first as an insert of an ad paper and later as a separate tabloid. I used then 'Pinoy News' as it was my idea the first time it was used for Kuwait Times. This again failed and produced only three weekly issues. I then turned to the Internet and in 1999 I got hired as a Contributing Editor of, a writers' portal on the web. The last of my articles was published December 31, 2002 but my topic 'Overseas Filipino Workers' was still visible until January 2006. All the 38 articles I wrote have been compiled into a book which I published in August 2007. I discovered blogging in 2006 but was not really serious about my writing. I wrote according to my whim. Having this blog under my own domain name is now a welcome development and I plan to concentrate again in writing. As is commonly said: "A writer will always be a writer."

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