Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda launched the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Welfare Assistance Program Processing Centers in Pampanga over the weekend.


Bello said the centers will be the first welfare assistance program processing centers to be established in the country that aim to fast-track services for OFWs.


“We are pleased to inform our OFWs residing in Pampanga that they can now avail our various OFW-related services within their reach as we will be initially establishing six Centers in six local government units(LGUs) in the province,” Bello said.


The Secretary added that like the established One-Stop-Shop Processing Centers for OFWs (OSSCO) at the Ople Building and Clark Freeport Zone, the newly launched Centers will further bring ease to Kapampangan OFWs in availing pre-departure and pre-employment services.


A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was inked between the Pampanga Provincial Government, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and covered LGUs for the creation of these Centers.


The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) serve as partner agencies of DOLE’s Welfare Center program.


Under the MOA, the initial six Centers will be established in the Local Government Units of Pampanga province, Mabalacat city, and municipalities of Sta. Rita, Lubao, Macabebe, and San Luis.


Joining Bello and Pineda in the MOA signing are OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE Regional Director Zenaida Angara-Campita, and OWWA Regional Director Ma. Lourdes Reyes.


Cacdac explained the various roles and functions of the OWWA relative to the establishment of these Centers.


“The OWWA will supervise the operations of these Centers and take charge in providing the necessary orientation, training, and immersion for LGU personnel,” Cacdac said.


Meanwhile, Pineda said that the Provincial Government, for its part, shall coordinate the provision of the venues for the Centers and its necessary equipment and other facilities.


“We will be providing the needed and appropriate staff to assist in the operation of these Centers. We will also be providing wards in the Jose B. Lingad Hospital and all of the Provincial Capitol’s hospitals exclusively for OFWs and their families,” Pineda said.


The established Centers shall determine the eligibility of OFWs and OFW Families availing Medical and Bereavement Assistance under the Welfare Assistance Program or WAP.


In addition, it shall receive and process applications and release the checks and provide information as well as accept applications on other OWWA programs and services, if necessary and applicable.


Governor Pineda, who lauded the OWWA and DOLE for its continued partnership in helping OFWs, assured her utmost support for the success of these Centers.


“Sa ngalan ng Sangguniang Panlalawigan, kami po ay nagpapasalamat sa walang sawang pagtulong at gabay ng OWWA at ng DOLE sa aming mga kababayan. Sa totoo lang po, ang mga pamilya ng mga OFWs natin ang nangangailangan ng tulong mula sa gobyerno, kaya naman nandito po lahat tayo upang sukliyan ang malaking tulong ng ating mga OFWs sa ating lalawigan sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay tulong at gabay sa kanilang mga pamilya,” Pineda said.


According to the latest survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the number of overseas Filipino workers was estimated at 2.2 million, with Central Luzon having the third highest share of OFWs.


CALABARZON reported the biggest share of OFWs with 21.0 percent, followed by National Capital Region and Central Luzon with 12.9 percent and 12.7 percent, respectively. END/Jerry Borja

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