Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz yesterday said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has set-up an assistance desk, Yolanda Operations Tulong, whose initial assistance is to locate family members of OFWs who went missing at the height of Typhoon Yolanda’s fury.

“We are provding this assistance whether or not the OFWs are active or inactive OWWA members,” said Baldoz, citing a report of OWWA chief Carmelita Dimzon.

The OWWA, Baldoz said, has also sent a team to augment its eight employees in Region 8 and assist them in the search and recovery of missing members of OFW families.

“The OWWA is assisting our OFW members–both active and non-active–and their families who were hit by the typhoon. The Yolanda Operations Tulong assistance desk is already fully set-up at the lobby of the OWWA Center in Pasay City and is providing the assistance. The OWWA has also sent a four-man team to augment its eight  personnel complement, two of whom have, themselves, been missing,” said Baldoz, further citing Dimzon’s report.

Dimzon said:

“The OWWA 24/7 Assistance Center located at the fourth floor of the OWWA Central Office is receiving calls from the OFWs abroad, the bulk of which is request for assistance to locate missing family members and relatives. Our office in Tacloban, in cooperation with the DOLE regional office, is accommodating all requests. They are trying very hard to locate the missing families and relatives of our OFWs who called us.

According to Dimzon, she has sent to Tacloban Directors Petrona Bergado and Jocelyn Hapal of OWWA Caraga and OWWA Region 5, respectively, and Jeffrey Cigno of OWWA Region 7 to assist in the OWWA regional operation.

“Another team from the OWWA Central Office will also leave within the week,” she stated.

Based on OWWA data, there are 542,115 OFWs in Regions 4-B, 6, 7, and 8, but only 168,344 of them are currently active OWWA members. The rest are inactive. Dimzon said there  are 30,214 OFW families directly affected by the calamity.

By regional breakdown of OWWA member-population, Region 8 has 46,234 OFWs, 19,820 of whom are active, while 39,69 of are non-active OWWA members. In Cebu, there are 105,069 members, but only 35,313 are active; the rest, or 69,756 are non-active OWWA members.

In the MIMAROPA region, there are 40,458 OFW-members of the OWWA, 12,282 of whom are active, while 28,176 are inactive members. In Region 6, there are 47,735 OWWA members, but only 13,478 are members.

“We are still validating the numbers on the ground. As soon as regular communication lines are restored, we will come up with updated numbers,” Dimzon said.


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