Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday praised the convergence team under the DOLE’s Assist WELL Program for OFWs for settling through conciliation-mediation the cases of eight OFWs brought before the Assist WELL Processing Center.
“I am very pleased that the Assist WELL Processing Center has settled through conciliation-mediation the monetary claims of eight OFWs who asked the Center for assistance. It shows that the Assist WELL Program is really effective in providing relief and assistance to our OFWs,” said Baldoz.
The Assist W.E.L.L. Program, adopted for implementation by DOLE concerned agencies by virtue of D.O. 139-14 s. 2014, is a component of the National Reintegration Program for OFWs and intended to ensure the successful reintegration of OFWs repatriated from crisis or emergency situations.
To implement the provisions of D.O. 139-14, s. 2014, Baldoz issued A.O. No. 21 on 8 January 2016 setting up Assist W.E.L.L. Processing Centers in 15 DOLE regional offices and one each at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and National Reintegration Center for OFW. The processing centers ensure a synchronized and systematic delivery of the program’s package of assistance consisting of welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal services, or W.E.L.L.
The settlement of the eight OFW cases fell under the legal component of the Assist W.E.L.L., through which POEA lawyers assisted the OFWs in preparing their individual sworn statements which they used in their filing of complaints with the National Labor Relations Commission, on their money claims, and with the POEA, on contract violation.
“All of these services were rendered to the distressed OFWs in the convenience of the one-stop shop of Assist W.E.L.L.,” said Baldoz.
Deputy Administrator Amuerfina Reyes of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration reported to the Secretary that the monetary claims of the eight OFWs were for underpaid wages, refund of placement fees, and refund of medical expenses.
“The monetary award as a result of the settlement ranges between P4,666 to P85,000 per OFW,” Reyes said.
POEA, which heads the Assist Well Management Committee Secretariat, said that of the eight OFWs, three worked in Taiwan; two worked in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; one each came from Qatar, Kuwait, and Ghana.
The three workers from Taiwan are factory workers. The workers from KSA were a truck driver and one was a household service worker. The three others were a general cleaning worker, a waiter, and a fisherman.
According to Deputy Administrator Reyes, the eight cases involved seven recruitment agencies, namely, Al Rafedain, Fil-Sino Manpower, Connor & Wyson, Rotana International, Quintinians, Gets International and Seahouse Fishery.
The OFW-claimants were Beejay O. Aguirre, a truck driver, with a claim of P30,000 in unpaid wages from Al Rafedain Manpower; Edgar A. Babon, factory worker, with a claim of P5,000 in refund of medical expenses from Fil-Sino Manpower Services, Inc.; William D. Calitis, operator in Taiwan, with a refund of P85,000 in placement fees from Connor & Wyson Overseas Employment Corporation; Rofel L. Dumlao, a factory worker in Taiwan, with a claim of P70,000 in refunds of placement fee from Connor & Wyson Overseas Employment Corporation; Aileen P. Raga, HSW in Saudi Arabia, with a claim for the return of her travel documents from Rotana International Manpower Inc; Tommy H. Sapalon, general cleaning worker in Qatar, with a claim of some expenses and the return of his travel documents from Quintinians Placement Agency Inc.; Mike Joseph B. Sinocruz, a waiter in Kuwait, with a claim of P12,000 in unpaid salary and refund of placement fee from Gets Intl. Development Manpower Services Inc.; and Rommel A. Valdez, a fisherman who worked in Ghana, and who had a claim of pay-on-board, unpaid salary and savings, and unexpired portion of the contract from Seahouse Fishery and Aquatic Resources Inc.
Baldoz said the string of recent global developments which poses political, health, and economic security threats and emergencies that could impact on the employment of OFWs has impelled the DOLE to establish the Assist W.E.L.L. Program and the one-stop shop Assist W.E.L.L. Processing Centers.
“We envision the Assist W.E.L.L. Program as a long-term strategy to address the reintegration challenge,” she said, adding:
“The Assist W.E.L.L. Program is tailored-fit for the bad times and good times, for the return of our OFWs whatever the reason, be it on account of their retirement from their overseas venture, short vacation, or emergency or crisis. We see this as our contribution to reverse migration.”