The Department of Labor and Employment is geared to boost its programs to provide better benefits for overseas Filipino workers with the effectivity of the new Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Act.

Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said with the amended charter, OWWA will be more proactive in providing relevant programs and services that are attuned to the needs of OFWs and their families.

“The amendment to the OWWA charter will reinforce the government’s desire to reach out to more Filipino workers abroad as we strive to protect their dignity and welfare,” Bello said.

Republic Act No. 10801 amended the law that created OWWA. It strengthens OWWA’s operations, capabilities and administration. The new law allows OWWA to devise a system of rebate for members who have a 10-year contribution to OWWA but have not availed of any benefits for the period covered.

Bello vowed to introduce new programs as OWWA drives to enhance its existing package of programs and services, such as death, disability, and dismemberment benefits, repatriation assistance, scholarships, skills training and skills upgrading programs, pre-departure assistance, among others.

Aside from rebates, the new law also provides that OWWA membership of an OFW will now be two years and renewable upon its expiration. Under the previous law, OFW membership expires with the termination of the overseas employment contract.

The OWWA Medplus program will also be fully implemented this year. This is a one-time financial assistance provided to active OWWA and PhilHealth members who are diagnosed with and subsequently hospitalized due to dreaded disease whether in the Philippines or in their country of employment. This matches the benefit granted by PhilHealth to its members under its case rate system but not to exceed P50,000 per member.

Bello reminded OFWs to always keep their records of OWWA membership payments, including receipts or any document that will prove their membership to OWWA. This will also serve as proof that they are entitled to the Rebate Program.

“The new set of programs and services simply gives emphasis to giving importance to the welfare of our OFWs,” he added.

#Paul Ang

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