A more responsive package of reintegration services enabled the Department of Labor and Employment to help 18,577 returning and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) on their concerns through its Assist WELL program.


Assist WELL is a package of comprehensive reintegration assistance and services that addresses the welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal (WELL) needs of repatriates and returning OFWs.


In a report submitted to Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), the agency that monitors the operation of Assist WELL Processing Centers, said majority of the OFWs served were from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia totaling 8,770 and followed by Taiwan at 1,829.


A total of 6,721, or 36.18 percent of the OFWs served were retrenched due to either cancellation or postponement of employers’ projects, downsizing/cost-cutting/redundancy or financial losses.


Another big number of OFWs, 5,169 of them, complained of contract violation.


More than 4,000 returned to the country due to the termination of their employment contract; 1,355 decided to stay in the Philippines; 543 came home due to health reasons; 397 due to crisis situation in the countries of destination; 165 were victims of illegal recruitment, and 64 returned due to expired visas.


Meanwhile, among the assistance provided to the OFWs include counseling, airport assistance, temporary accommodation at OWWA Hostel, emergency medical assistance, and transport assistance to their residence led by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
A total of 3,419 OFWs, who sought for legal assistance were provided with advice and/or assistance in filing complaints against their employers and local agencies by the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC), DOLE-Legal Service, and the National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB).


In the case of livelihood program, OFWs who requested to be assisted were also oriented about how to access and avail of DOLE livelihood and entrepreneurial programs offered by the Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC) and NRCO.


With regard employment assistance, 75 OFWs who opted for local employment were referred to local companies by the Bureau of Local Employment (BLE); 444 who requested for competency assessment and training assistance were provided with scholarships, trainings and certification by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA); and 996 who opted for overseas employment were referred by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to recruitment agencies for assistance in deployment.


Apart from the services offered, Bello said the latest improvement in the Assist WELL program is the installation of an e-Tracking system for easier monitoring of the status of assistance availed by OFWs.


The number of OFWs served by Assist WELL covers the period July to December 2016 and January to March 2017.


The Assist WELL program is implemented by DOLE through its regional offices, bureaus, attached agencies and POLOs to provide all the help that may be needed by OFWs who have returned or were repatriated due to crisis or emergency situations.


END/Tim Laderas

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