Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz and Coca Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Washington Fabricio Ponce Garcia yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement on the joint development of new programs and initiatives geared for employment matching, livelihood enhancement, and technical/and/or business training for overseas Filipino workers.
“This agreement indicates that convergence with the private sector is important. Partnerships in laying down concrete programs and services for returning overseas Filipino workers who intend to be locally-employed or to set up their own livelihoods, or to enhance their knowledge and skills through technical training could produce positive results and great impact,” said Baldoz after the MOA signing at the DOLE in Intramuros, Manila.
Baldoz, who was joined in the simple signing ceremony by her three undersecretaries—Undersecretaries Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III, Rebecca C. Chato, and Nicon F. Fameronag—as well as Assistant Secretaries Gloria A. Tango, Katherine Brimon, and Joji V. Aragon—said the agreement will pave the way for the development of responsive programs on employment and livelihoods that will cater to OFWs returning permanently to the country.
Ponce Garcia was joined by Juan Carlos Dominguez, Coca Cola FEMSA Philippines, Inc. HR and Corporate Affairs Director; Juan Lorenzo Tanada, Public and Legal Affairs Associate Director; and Wella A. Orejola, Labor Relations Diversity and Social Development Manager.
In entering the partnership through the MOA, both the DOLE and Cocal Cola FEMSA have expressed mutual interest in collaborating for the implementation of new employment and/or livelihood programs and activities, specifically for OFWs.
Coca Cola FEMSA, one of the largest employers in the Philippines, is at the forefront of the beverage industry. It has extensive business operations nationwide, and has its own existing employment and livelihood programs.
On the part of the DOLE—which also has its own existing employment facilitation and livelihood programs—Baldoz said it recognizes the importance of giving OFWs ample and meaningful opportunities for possible local employment and livelihood that should encourage OFWs to stay in the country for good.
“We just have to pin down which of our respective programs can be identified as possible areas of collaboration, develop OFW-tailored programs and services, and direct these to OFWs for their own choosing,” Baldoz explained.
Once these employment and livelihood programs are identified, Baldoz said the DOLE will enrol these in the Assist W.E.L.L. Program, the DOLE’s convergence assistance program for OFWs’ welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal concerns. Baldoz has recently institutionalized the Assist W.E.L.L. Program with the establishment of 18 Assist W.E.L.L. Processing Centers all over the Philippines, three of which are in Metro Manila, while the 15 other centers are in the DOLE regional offices.
Under the MOA, both the DOLE and Coca Cola FEMSA, to the extent allowed by law and by their respective rules and regulations, shall inform each other of their existing or on-going programs and initiatives on employment and livelihood programs for possible collaboration or partnership. They shall also furnish each other, as needed, relevant data, mechanics, statistics and information on OFWs’ skills and demographics.
Baldoz said that the DOLE is also currently pursuing similar collaborative agreements with other private sector partners, such as the Philippine Plastics Industry Association, Inc.; Philippine Association of Local Service Contractors, Inc.; Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines, Inc.; Cement Manufacturers Association of the Philippines; Aerospace Industries Association of the Philippines; and Ayala Land, Inc.