On the wake of 7.2 magnitude quake in Bohol
Baldoz orders OWWA to assist and care for families of OFWs

Days after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake devastated large areas of Bohol and some parts of Cebu, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz reported that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), working quickly to locate families of OFWs who were affected by the earthquake, had identified a total of 15,494 members who would need immediate assistance.

On this note, Baldoz yesterday instructed OWWA Administrator Carmelita Dimzon to care and provide them all forms of appropriate help until such time their lives return to normal.

Baldoz issued the directive as she visited Cebu to meet with DOLE regional officials, employers, and workers to direct DOLE interventions for victims of the tragedy and to get first-hand information on the progress of the DOLE’s emergency employment program and the job fairs she instructed to be conducted by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Bureau of Local Employment.

“The regional welfare offices of the OWWA in Bohol and Cebu have already identified 3,426 active and 12,078 inactive OWWA members in 28 Bohol towns classified by the Regional Disaster Relief and Rehabilitation Management Council (RDRRMC) as badly-hit municipalities, so the OWWA is under instruction to already farm-out rehabilitation and relief assistance to these OWWA members,” Baldoz said in a media release.

The OWWA members are in the municipalities of Loon, 933; Tubigon, 1,256; San isidro, 95; Carmen, 711; Inabanga, 601; Tagbilaran City, 4,512; Antequerra, 346; Sagbayan, 387; Butuan, 267; Corela, 168; Maribojoc, 515; Cortez, 404; Calape, 664; Clarin, 501; Danao, 174; Dagohoy, 211; Sikatuna, 174; Trinidad, 371; Alicia, 385; Sevilla, 219; Sierra Bullones, 476; Balilihan, 249; Catigbian, 370; Buenavista, 247; Lila, 378; Loboc, 455; Getafe, 96; and Bilar, 329, or a total 15,494.

“You should prioritize stabilizing the lives of these OFWs in coordination with local government units and regional disaster and relief management officials. You should provide care and assist members of families of OFWs who were dislocated and distressed by the earthquake,” Baldoz ordered, adding:

“There is no time to be wasted in the effort because Christmas is coming and we don’t want our OFW families, or any Filipino worker for that matter, to be gloomy.”

The labor and employment chief said a fast response is needed at this hour, and explained that the OWWA might need to do emergency relief operation, just like what it did in the aftermath of Typhoons Pablo and Sendong.

Also yesterday, Administrator Dimzon reported she had already relayed Secretary Baldoz’s directive to the OWWA field offices in Cebu and Bohol which are now doing the necessary preparation for its intervention.

“Initially, the OWWA can do a welfare mission to bring food, water, medicines, and other basic necessities. It should also provide counseling services,” Baldoz said.

She explained that if Dimzon needs to go to the OWWA Board of Trustees to get authority to disburse some funds for the OWWA members, she should do so at the earliest time. Baldoz is the chairman of the OWWA Board.

Baldoz said the OWWA can also implement a livelihood restoration program, in coordination with the DOLE regional office and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, to get devastated business of OFWs up and running again.

“If necessary, we can look for ways on how to replace destroyed equipment, restore production facilities, or provide other implements for OFW businesses. We need to re-connect them to their markets,” she said.
END

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