The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is drafting new guidelines in the grant of benefits and loans to displaced and repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Secretary Silvestre Bello III said recently.
In a recent dialogue with the repatriated workers from Mohammad Al-Mojil Group of companies in Saudi Arabia, Bello also vowed to assist returning workers seeking assistance in claiming their unpaid financial and security benefits from their employers.
“Give us all the proper papers and documentation and we assure you of the labor department’s assistance in claiming your unpaid wages and benefits. We have also created a technical working group to thoroughly review the rules and guidelines in applying for a loan,” Bello said.
The labor chief, who is also the chairperson of the OWWA Board, has approved to raise the enhanced livelihood assistance given to the displaced OFWs from P10,000 to P20,000 cash assistance.
The Landbank of the Philippines grants loan assistance amounting from P50,000 – P300,000 for the OFWs who can provide legitimate collaterals such as land titles and other valued assets with a regular interest rate of 8 percent.
This prompted DOLE and OWWA to negotiate with the officers of Landbank in clearing out various terms and requirements in granting loan assistance for the distressed OFWs.
DOLE is also requesting to reduce the interest rate for the said OFW loan from 8 percent to 6 percent and exclude the collateral requirement because the labor department will be the guarantor of the OFWs.
“We are reviewing the rules for the loan. For those who are interested in applying, there will be no collateral because we will be your guarantor. Take good care of your money and attend our livelihood training so that you won’t find the need to leave the country again,” Bello added.
OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac meantime noted that first-degree relatives, such as wives and children of the deceased OFWs and Filipino workers who are still in abroad can process the claims and loans, provided that they have the proper documentations.
“We are finalizing the rules for the loan with the officers of Landbank. We hope to sign a memorandum of understanding with them in June,” Cacdac explained.
It can be recalled that 9 companies from the Middle East have ceased their operations due to a financial crisis and resulted in the displacement of thousands of OFWs.
These OFWs have been repatriated by the government and a large number of them are formerly working for Mohammad Al-Mojil Group. The Department of Foreign Affairs, DOLE, and OWWA are exerting all efforts in assisting the said OFWs in claiming unpaid wages and benefits from their employers.