OFW guide: Financial aid, legal assistance, other PHL govt services await displaced workers
After Taiwan imposed a hiring freeze startingin May due to its row with the Philippines, the estimated 16,000 overseas Filipinos in danger of losing their jobs might be asking, "What job or livelihood prospects await us in the Philippines?"
Taiwan issued a hiring freeze order after the fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by members of the Philippine Coast Guard on May 9 off a disputed territory in northern Philippines.
To address the various concerns of OFWs returning from Taiwan, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has set up a dedicated help desk especially for them at the offices of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
The help desk may also be reached by calling 7221189.
Celso Fernandez, a lawyer for POEA, told GMA News Online the kind of assistance given to OFWs who approach or call the help desk will depend on the nature of their concerns. He said the help desk officer will refer the OFW to any of the following agencies based on his or her assessment of the worker’s problems.
Listed below are the agencies that OFWs from Taiwan may go to following their visit to the help desk as well as some of the services they offer:
- legal assistance for OFWs who want to file a case against their recruiters, employers, or principals for legitimate claims, and
- the OFW’s registration in the government’s database of skilled workers, for possible job referral to government agencies .
- trainings on financial literacy, technological skills and entrepreneurial know-how, and
- job referrals to local or international companies
- opportunity to apply for a P200,000 loan that OFWs can use to establish a small business (small groups of OFWs can apply for a loan up to P1 million)
- 10,000 financial aid or a starter kit worth P7,500 for displaced or distressed workers under the “Balik-Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” program, and
- opportunity for an OFW or his legal dependent to avail themselves of a P300,000.00 to P2 million loan under the P2-billion Reintegration Fund for enterprise development in cooperation with the Land Bank of the Philippines and the DOLE-National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).
Fernandez encouraged OFWs to make the most out of their visits to the help desks by being open about their concerns with the help desk officer who can make the right assessment about the kind of assistance the OFWs need.
The lawyer added that a visit to the help desk may be all it takes for an OFW to realize that he does not need to work abroad again for there are various livelihood opportunities available to him right here in the Philippines. - VVP, GMA News