For two consecutive surveys, the issue on “protecting the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)” has garnered the highest approval rating in the latest Pulse Asia Research Inc.’s Nationwide Survey on Urgent Personal and National Concerns of Filipinos.
The result of the survey, which was released on 11 January, showed that more Filipinos, 52 percent of them, believe the government is protecting the welfare of the OFWs. This was the only national issue that scored a majority approval in the survey ran by Pulse Asia on December 2015. It is also a notch higher in the September 2015 round of the survey.
According to the Pulse Asia, 52 percent of Filipinos expressed appreciation for the Aquino III’s administration’s efforts to protect the welfare of OFWs, thus getting the highest approval rating in the 12 national issues surveyed.
Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz said the result motivates even more the DOLE to sustain and even further heighten its protection mechanisms and interventions for OFWs, especially now that there is a brewing tension in the Middle East Region, specifically between Saudi and Iran.
Baldoz said safeguarding of OFWs who work in over 200 locations across the world is DOLE’s constant concern and the Department keeps itself informed of their conditions to promptly address their interest and welfare, 24/7, through the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs).
“Our enhanced protection of migrant workers covers the essentials of deployment up to the opportunities provided by the DOLE’s OFW reintegration program,” Baldoz said.
Overseas, the DOLE’s Philippine Overseas Labor Offices are in the frontline on labor and employment concerns of OFWs. The DOLE, through its attached agencies, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), regularly conducts information and education campaign to protect Filipinos desiring to work abroad from human trafficking, and illegal recruitment, and empower them through learning sessions and modules on Pre-Employment Orientation Seminar, Pre-Departure Orientation Seminar, and Post Arrival Orientation Seminar.
The full cycle of assistance culminates upon the OFWs’ return, with the DOLE, through the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), providing responsive, productive, and sustainable reintegration services to OFW returnees to enable them to maximize the gains of overseas employment, mitigate the social costs of migration, and cushion the impact of forced repatriation due to unexpected events.
The DOLE maintains 36 Philippine Overseas Labor Office spread across Asia (11), Middle East (15), and Europe and the Americas (10). The POLOs also maintain and manage the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC), a shelter facility and venue for developmental and skills training activities.
The re-structuring of all Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) was initiated in 2015 with the creation of additional 162 overseas plantilla positions that President Benigno S. Aquino III has given the DOLE, Baldoz said, adding that the transformation of POLOs into centers of care and excellence addresses the needs of the OFWs.
The MWOFRCs readily provide OFWs assistance that will fast track the resolution of their cases.
The Secretary added that as the DOLE’s first action line of service within the POLOs’ organizational structure, the MWOFRC sets the proper tone for the delivery of programs and services by establishing itself as a caring and excellent service facility.
Last year, pursuant to RA 10022 and congressional fiat, the DOLE and its partners forged a Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and other Filipinos Overseas, which serves as an OFW protection instrument. It brings together the DOLE, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, and other concerned government agencies in addressing the various concerns of Filipino migrant workers.
Recently, Baldoz issued an Administrative Order No. 621 series of 2015, which sustains the transformation of MWOFRCs into Centers of Care and Excellence through the formation of a DOLE Program Management Committee that will monitor and evaluate the conduct of onsite skills training, assessment, and certification; onsite case management, and POLO/MWOFRC’s physical improvement.
The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center is established in countries with large concentration of OFWs. Six can be found Asia (Hongkong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Brunei Darussalam, Taipei, and Korea); 11 in Middle East (Riyadh, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Manama, Doha, Muscat, Kuwait, Beirut, Amman, and Tripoli), and one in Greece.