Thousands of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Visayas and Mindanao regions had been served by the newly established One-Stop Center for Overseas Filipino Workers in the Queen City of the South, Cebu City.

A report to Labor and Employment Secretary Patricia A. Sto. Tomas said the One-Stop Center had processed the deployment abroad of some 17,143 land and sea-based OFWs from Visayas and Mindanao in 2004.

The Cebu City One-Stop Center for OFWs was established on April 22, 2004 by virtue of the Department of Labor and Employment Order 58-04 issued by Sto. Tomas a month earlier.

The One-Stop Center aims to strengthen the opportunities and employment of OFWs, reduce their inconvenience, and shield them from the danger of illegal recruiters in the course of applying for overseas jobs.

Sto. Tomas’ order renamed the previous Philippine Seafarers One Stop Center (PSOC) into the new Overseas Filipino Workers One Stop Center, expanding its comprehensive services and processes in one strategic site to assist and benefit not only seafarers but also land-based workers headed for jobs overseas.

The labor and employment chief had instructed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, which hosts the OFW one-stop facility, to consult with the 12 cooperating agencies and ensure the effective implementation of DO.58-04.

Sto. Tomas stressed that ” all cooperating agencies presently discharging functions applicable to sea-based workers shall expand the coverage of their services to all land-based OFWs.”

The 12 agencies operating at the One-Stop Center to provide pertinent services to sea-based and land-based workers are the Commission on Higher Education, Department of Foreign Affairs, Maritime Industry Authority, National Bureau of Investigation, National Statistics Office, National Telecommunications Commission, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Pag-Ibig Fund, Phil-Health, Professional Regulation Commission, Social Security System, and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.

POEA Deputy Administrator and Officer-in-Charge Carmelita S. Dimzon said the center is scheduled to be transferred to its new location at AMWAY Building, near the Malacañang sa Sugba in Cebu City. She said the transfer, scheduled this March 2005, would facilitate the documentation needs of overseas contract workers from the South speedily and efficiently.

Records showed that in 2004, the POEA deployed some 871,700 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in emerging and traditional job markers worldwide.

In their preliminary report, the POEA said the number of rehired OFWs in land-based sector increased to 392,058 in 2004 from 272, 373 in 2003, adding there were also 254,520 newly-hired OFWs deployed in various overseas economies.

The report also said that the deployment of overseas Filipino seafarers for the entire year also rose to 225,122, surpassing the 216,031 seafarers deployed in 2003

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