The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is encouraging returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to take advantage of the reintegration services offered by the government through the ‘Assist WELL’ Program.

‘Assist WELL’, which stands for ‘Welfare, Employment, Legal, and Livelihood’ is a program that looks into the reintegration needs of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) upon their return or repatriation.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III has reiterated his instructions to officials of concerned agencies administering the program to intensify efforts in providing necessary assistance to returning OFWs.

“We want to ensure that the government stands ready in addressing the return and reintegration needs of OFW-returnees, especially those affected by the crisis and the 90-day amnesty program implemented by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA),” Bello said.

In a recent memorandum, the labor chief pointed to specific duties and responsibilities that concerned officials and agencies should perform in implementing the program.

He ordered the Center Managers operating the Assist WELL Processing Centers to facilitate the transfer of the repatriated OFWs, including their profiling.

He also said that profiles of OFWs requesting for assistance shall be encoded using the Assist WELL Tracking System.

The Center Managers, apart from profiling, has also been tapped to ensure that the team facilitating the operations and services of the Assist WELL Processing Centers shall be competent and well-trained.

“Also, there should always be regular senior level officers to take care of the day-to-day management of the Processing Centers,” Bello said.

The Assist WELL Secretariat, on the other hand, is directed to update the package of services and interventions provided to OFW returnees and ensure that all its components are enrolled in the program’s e-Tracking System for easier monitoring of progress of assistance.

The memorandum also states that the DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)shall ensure that home-based Labor Attachés and personnel for deployment in Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) under Immersion Program are assigned to serve at the Assist WELL Centers.

“To fast track the provision of assistance to OFWs bound to return home, POLOs are also directed to register them in the Assist WELL e-Tracking System in coordination with Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) IT Team,” Bello said.

He also said the officials “are encouraged to conduct regular meetings and facilitate the linkaging and networking with other government, non-government agencies, private sector, partners and stakeholders, thus maximize service delivery for intended clients.”

The ‘Assist WELL’ Program is implemented by DOLE through its regional offices, bureaus, attached agencies and POLOs. Its Processing Centers are established in three DOLE agencies and 17 regional offices in the country.

Among the free services offered under the program are stress debriefing or counseling by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); local employment referral by  Bureau of Local Employment; overseas employment referral by POEA and its regional centers or extension offices; livelihood assistance by OWWA and National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO); legal assistance or conciliation services by the POEA, DOLE regional offices, and the Regional Coordinating Councils; and competency assessment and training assistance by Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

END/Tim Laderas

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