Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said yesterday that one of the more important features of the newly-issued Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Overseas is the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center, or MWOFRC, which shall serve as central hub of welfare and assistance for migrant Filipinos.
“As mandated by R.A. 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, as amended by R.A. 10022, there are already MWOFRCs, or Centers, in countries where there are large concentration of migrant Filipinos, but the Joint Manual now specifies the usage of the Centers and the multi-purpose hall which shall be established therein (Sec. 21 and 29); clarifies management and supervision and the duties and functions of responsible officials for the orderly operation of the Centers (Secs. 22 and 23); prescribes the criteria and procedures for admission, as well as discharge (Secs. 24, 25, and 27); prescribes the general rules and regulations to maintain order, discipline, and security (Sec. 26); and outlines the reporting system on Center operations,” Secretary Baldoz explained.
“These provisions in the Joint Manual are clear-cut and specific that these ensure very smooth and orderly flow of services in the MWOFRC,” she said.
The labor and employment chief emphasized that the Joint Manual was developed consistent with the directive of President Aquino III to transform Philippine missions abroad into Centers of Care and Excellence for Overseas Filipinos, and the MWOFRC is a focal point of this pursuit.
The MWOFRC, as provided in the Joint Manual, shall be used as a temporary shelter for overseas Filipinos in distress. Therefore, Baldoz said the Centers should reflect the ideal standards of how workers should be treated, served, and cared for.
“These places are the closest migrant Filipinos have for a home. It goes without saying they should feel at home in the Centers,” said Baldoz.
Under the Joint Manual, the location of the MWOFRC shall be jointly approved by the Secretaries of the DFA and the DOLE and it shall be located near or outside the premises of the Philippine Embassy or Consulate which shall endeavor to secure the appropriate recognition for the Center from the host government.
Under the Joint Manual, it is the POLO, through the Labor Attache, who shall supervise and coordinate the operation of the MWOFRC, but he or she shall keep the head of the Post informed and updated on all matters affecting the Center through monthly report. The daily operation of the Center will be the responsibility of the Center Coordinator, to be assigned by the Labor Attache.
Baldoz said the MWOFRC is solely for female migrant Filipinos in distress, but the Joint Manual provides that a separate Center for males shall be established, as may be allowed by the rules and regulations of the host government, and subject to availability of funds.
To ensure the well-being, safety, and security of the wards, the Center Coordinator shall maintain a systematic recording, reporting, and monitoring system which shall include information such as the date and time of admission, brief statement of personal circumstances (health condition and special medical attention required, if any) inventory of ward’s personal belongings at the time of admission, and the date and time of discharge from the Center, as well as identity of visitors entering and leaving.
More importantly, it is prohibited to engage the wards in any work inside or outside the Centers, whether full time or part time, whether with or without remuneration.
“Wards shall not be allowed to work in the households or offices of Embassy, Consulate, or POLO officials and do errands for them,” said Baldoz, noting that this reform was initiated by the DOLE three years ago.
“Instead, the Center shall facilitate the conduct of necessary seminars and skills training/upgrading for the wards in preparation for their personal, social, and economic reintegration when they return to the Philippines,” said Baldoz.
The labor and employment chief also said the Filipino community and non-government organizations shall be allowed to use the multi-purpose hall of the Center for developmental activities, such as reintegration preparedness seminars, skills training, meetings, and other community activities, but subject to certain conditions and with the prior approval of the head of the POLO.
“This is another notable expansion of the use of the Center, in addition to the many services which the Joint Manual provides and enumerates,” she said.