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OWWA Extends Assistance to OFW who died in Kuwait

Helen Riobuya Sarocam, a household service worker in Kuwait reportedly fell from the 5thfloor of her foreign recruitment agency’s (FRA’s) accommodation at about 5:00 AM on May 22, 2015.

 

As per report from POLO-OWWA Kuwait, the worker stayed at her FRA’s accommodation after she was brought to the Embassy’s Consular Office where she executed an affidavit of refusal to continue working and her request to go home. Her FRA has already issued plane ticket for her return to the country and is due to leave Kuwait on May 24 when the incident happened.

 

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis- Baldoz immediately instructed the OWWA to extend the necessary assistance to the family of the deceased worker and to expedite the repatriation of her human remains.

 

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, on the other hand, assured the family of the worker that they will receive benefits from OWWA. She also instructed OWWA Region 11 to provide psycho-social counseling to the family of the late worker to cushion the impact of the OFW’s demise.

 

OFW Sarocam, a native of Monkayo, Compostella Valley, was an active OWWA Member at the time of death.

 

OWWA Region 11 and DFA-Mindanao are in the process of facilitating necessary documents for the immediate repatriation of the worker’s human remains.

 

Families of OFWs who have active OWWA Membership at the time of death will receive Death and Burial Benefit amounting to Php 220,000.00 if the cause of death is accident and Php 120, 000.00 if death is due to natural cause. The families of active OWWA members are also eligible to avail of the Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), a one-time scholarship-cum-livelihood grant for the surviving heirs of an active OWWA Member. The surviving spouse will receive Php 15,000.00-worth of Livelihood Assistance while the first-born child will receive an educational assistance until the beneficiary finishes college education.

 

While the OWWA is awaiting advice from the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait as to the schedule of the repatriation of human remains of OFW Sarocam, it would provide the necessary assistance and intervention to the family of the deceased worker. OWWA Repatriation team will extend airport assistance upon the arrival of the human remains. The Team will likewise assist the family of the deceased worker in getting clearance and other papers from Customs and Quarantine officials to facilitate the release of the OFW’s remains to the bereaved family.

HEAD OFFICE
337 OFWs from Yemen given 10K- FRAP from OWWA

In response to the worsening political conflict in Yemen, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has implemented the Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP) by virtue of Board Resolution No. 3 and 4, Series of 2015 instructing the release of Php 10,000.00 financial grant to the OFWs (both OWWA member and non-member) who were displaced by the political unrest in Yemen. As per Memorandum of Instruction No. 004 Series of 2015, workers from Yemen who were repatriated after the government declared Alert Level 4 Status requiring mandatory repatriation on February 16, 2015, are entitled to the one-time financial assistance. The program can be availed of by the repatriated OFW within six (6) months after his/her arrival in the Philippines.

 

As of May 25, 2015, a total of 337 OFWs from strife-torn Yemen have already availed of the Php 10,000.00 financial grant. They belong to the group of 482 OFWs who have been repatriated so far from Yemen.

 

FRAP aims to provide immediate relief to OFWs while they are undergoing economic and social adjustments in their communities as a result of sudden displacement from their jobs.

 

Qualified OFWs could claim the financial grant at OWWA Regional Offices and should bring with them their passport or travel documents indicating the date of entry to Yemen, date of exit from Yemen and date of arrival in the Philippines, and any government-issued ID with address or barangay certificate to establish the residency of the returning OFW.

 

OFWs from Yemen are provided airport assistance, temporary shelter and transport services and fares for their on-ward travel to their respective provinces. These post- repatriation services, including the FRAP, are components of the Assist WELL Program of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which stands for Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal Assistance extended by government agencies to the OFWs who were repatriated due to emergency situations at their respective jobsites. 

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HEAD OFFICE
OWWA, LBP Approved P865.12M Reintegration Fund for 1,257 OFW-Entrepreneurs as of end of 2014

Since its launch in June 2011 up to December 2014, the business projects of 1,257 members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) were approved under the 2-Billion OFW Reintegration Program, a joint undertaking of the Land Bank of the Philippines and of OWWA. The total amount of loan extended to the proponents reached P865,118,529.80.

 

The approved business projects are a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural enterprises. Non-agricultural business projects are slightly higher than agricultural projects comprising 59% of all the project grantees during the period. Among these are groceries, apartment construction and rental, general merchandise stores, UV Express, hardware, water-refilling stations, internet café, restaurant, auto and motor parts, ready-to-wear, pharmacy and gas station.

 

Agricultural projects are mostly linked to the food chain. These are grains, fruits and vegetables farming, grains trading, livestock- and poultry-raising, fishery, post-harvest activities like milling, and bakery.

 

Most of the approved business projects of OFW availees came from Region 3 followed by Regions 4-A, 6, 12, 5, NCR and 2, 11, 7, 1, CAR, 4-B, 10, 9, ARMM, 8 and CARAGA.

 

These enterprises generated 5,634 jobs.

HEAD OFFICE
(Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz issues the following statement on the commentary of Hong Kong legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-Yee against Filipino household service workers.)

“I am seriously concerned over the reported commentary of Hong Kong lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee against Filipino household service workers (HSWs) in Hong Kong which has stirred international controversy and aroused national indignation. Her reported negative remarks, I believe, is a personal opinion and do not echo the feelings and perceptions of the general Hong Kong populace, neither of the Hong Kong government of which she is identified as an apologist.

 

“Filipinos are culturally family-centered. We are known to highly value family ties. This trait has defined Filipinos for generations, wherever they are and whatever circumstances they may be in. Filipino women are homemakers, not home wreckers. They also fiercely defend their honor and dignity, as evidenced by the many cases of HSWs risking their lives by running away from employers and seeking shelter in our Filipino Workers Resource Centers because of the immoral behaviour of their employers.

 

“I acknowledge that some of our OFWs display unacceptable behavior and commit offenses abroad. We certainly do not tolerate this. As Secretary of Labor and Employment, I often remind every OFW to observe high moral standard in their work and lifestyle. But the mistakes of the few should not be misconstrued as reflective of the character of all OFWs.

 

“To address the issues raised by Ms. Ip, I wish it known that we continue to implement our strict policy on the ethical and legal deployment of HSWs only to labor laws-compliant employers and placing all erring employers and placement agencies  in all countries of OFW destinations under preventive suspension or cancellation of accreditation.

 

“In Hong Kong, particularly, we continue our “cleansing” the ranks of foreign recruitment agencies (FRAs) by looking at those engaged in the exploitative and abusive practice of excessive collection of fees from OFWs in the guise of service fees from their local counterparts in the Philippines.

 

“We also continue to implement our return home policy under the National Reintegration Program with a very specific project, “Sa ‘Pinas Ikaw ang Ma’am/Sir” targeted at HSW-teachers who we are encouraging to come home and pursue their teaching careers. In cooperation with the DepEd, we have already placed 10 OFW-teachers in permanent teaching positions this first quarter of 2015, while 45 are expected to teach this coming school year. We still have some 300 teacher-position items allocated by the DepEd to fill-up.

 

“To ensure that our low- and semi-skilled OFWs are prepared for higher skill-level employment opportunities in the Philippines or abroad, we have brought the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority’s training, skills assessment, and certification on-site. We have begun this last year in Dubai, and we are preparing to start very soon in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and in other Middle East countries.

 

“I thank the civil society groups and individuals in Hong Kong and elsewhere who have risen in support and defense of our Filipino HSWs, whose industry and hard work enable the families they serve in Hong Kong to work, comfortable in the thought that their children are left in the better and secure care of Filipino HSWs.

 

I also wish to convey to our counterpart in the Hong Kong government our interest and readiness to engage them in bilateral talks to discuss the issues and concerns affecting the employment of Filipino HSWs in Hong Kong. Already, the POEA is in the midst of multi-stakeholders consultations on the no-placement fee convention of the ILO for our country’s ratification.”

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OWWA undergoes 2nd Surveillance audit for ISO 9001:2008

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) went through the second surveillance audit for its ISO 9001:2008 Certification last April 14, 2015.

 

The scope of the certification includes the following core processes: Repatriation Assistance and Post-Repatriation Services, Membership Verification Process, Death Benefit Process, Arabic Language Training and Culture Familiarization for Household Service Workers (HSWs), and Education for Development Scholarship Program process. Included also in the coverage of the certification are eleven (11) support processes.

 

Among the processes enrolled in the said certification, 3 core processes and 7 support processes underwent surveillance audit conducted by the Certification International.

 

OWWA went through its first surveillance audit for the certification last December 5, 2014 and yielded positive results as the agency’s Quality Management System (QMS) was found by the Certification International to be maintained in accordance with the requirements of ISO 9001: 2008. The 2nd surveillance audit was conducted to ensure continued ISO Certification.

 

The Certificate of Registration for the ISO 9001:2008 was officially conferred to OWWA last 2014 during its 32nd Founding Anniversary.

 

With this ISO Certification, each OWWA employee is challenged to be effective and efficient worker and to provide the best service to address the clients’ needs, thus, attaining total customer satisfaction.

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OWWA Reactivates its Crisis Monitoring and Response Team for Yemen Crisis

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has reactivated its Crisis Monitoring and Response Team (CMRT) to respond to the current critical situation in Yemen after the Alert Level in the area was raised to 4 due to the worsening armed-conflict there. The CMRT is a special committee of OWWA that is reactivated in times of political unrest in countries where there are affected Filipino migrant workers. The committee ensures the timely response and assistance of OWWA to the distressed and displaced workers from war-torn nations.

 

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado ordered the reactivation of the CMRT to closely-monitor the status of evacuees, border-crossers and Filipinos staying at holding areas, and to coordinate with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Missions in the repatriation of affected OFWs in the area. It is likewise directed to identify the needs and carry out the usual services of Repatriation Assistance Division (RAD) for repatriated workers upon arrival at the airport, and provide regular and timely advisories to the public as well as maintain records of repatriated OFWs.

 

OWWA has already accorded 342 repatriated Filipino migrant workers from Yemen with necessary airport assistance which includes a special lane for the processing of immigration papers of Yemen repatriates, provided temporary shelter and transport services and fares for their on-ward travel to their respective provinces. OWWA is also part of the DOLE-Assist WELL which caters to the Welfare, Employment, Livelihood and Legal needs of the displaced workers. 

HEAD OFFICE
80 OFWs, children from Yemen returned home

78 OFWs, and 2 children, from Yemen returned home April 14, 2015 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport aboard Philippine Airlines flight PR 655 at 9:15 A.M.

 

According to OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, the returning workers were visibly happy upon arrival at the airport despite the long travel to safety which lasted for 10 hours.

 

Natakot po kami sa air strike na baka tumama sa mga bahay o buildings kaya nagdesisyon na kami umuwi,” a repatriate who worked for 20 years as supervisor in Yemen said. When asked if he has any plan to go back to Yemen when the situation there stabilizes, or to another country where his skills are needed, the OFW said, hindi muna, pahinga muna ako. Nakakasawa rin naman magtagal doon,” he quipped.

 

The returnees availed of the Philippine government’s Mandatory Repatriation Program. Alert Level 4 was raised in February 2015 when the strife in the said country escalated exposing the lives of OFWs to danger.

 

Last Monday, 13 April, 20 repatriates from Yemen -- 19 OFWs and one child -- were extended airport assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team.

 

Upon arrival at the airport, the displaced/distressed workers were accorded airport assistance that include special lane in processing of immigration papers. 

 

Some of the OFWs are now temporarily housed at the OWWA Halfway Home before they return to their respective provinces. Most of those who are in OWWA are from the Visayas and Mindanao.

 

At the airport, the repatriates were briefed on the DOLE-OWWA-POEA ASSIST WELL programs and services, to cushion the impact of the Filipino migrant workers’ sudden job displacement resulting from the political conflict in Yemen.

 

Following are information on the number of Filipinos who have safely arrived in Manila: April 8 - 4 OFWs; April 9 - 90 OFWs including 5 minors; April 11 – 98 OFWs including 8 minors; April 13 – 20 OFWs including 1 child; April 14 – 80 OFWs including 2 kids, or a total of 342 returnees.

 

OWWA is on a 24-hour standby to repatriation advisories from the Agency’s overseas posts. 

HEAD OFFICE
150  OFWs From Yemen  to Return Home over the Weekend

150  OFWs from strife-torn Yemen  will be flown home tomorrow, Saturday, 11 April  2015, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) today said. OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, along with DOLE and POEA officials will be at the airport to welcome the  migrant workers.

 

The Filipino migrant workers  boarded their planes in  Riyadh, KSA, where the composite Team of  the Philippine Embassy, and the Philippine Overseas Labor officials (POLO) evacuated them to  safety from Yemen, to Jizan, en route to Riyadh, where they were  provided accommodation,  before leaving for Manila. 

 

The repatriates will return in 2 batches; first flight of 50 OFWs will return  aboard Philippine Airlines PR 655 at 10:05 A.M.;  while  the 2nd group of 100 OFWs will  arrive via Cebu Pacific at 3:50 in the afternoon. 

The repatriates availed of the Philippine government’s Mandatory Repatriation Program through the Philippine Embassy. Alert level 4 was raised  in February  2015 when the infighting in the said country  escalated posing threat to the lives of OFWs and other nationals.    

 

Yesterday, Thursday,  09 April, a total of 90 OFWs from Yemen, including 5 minors,  were extended airport assistance by the OWWA Team led by the OWWA Administrator, DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad and POEA representatives.  In the meantime, 4 OFWs, also from  Yemen, were the first to return to  the Philippines last Wednesday night, 08 April 2015.  

 

Upon arrival at the airport, the displaced/distressed workers will be accorded airport assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team. The assistance will include processing of immigration papers  through a special lane for Yemen  returnees,  in coordination with the  Immigration personnel

 

Aside from  airport assistance, Yemen  returnees  who have no  place to stay in Manila are   provided with temporary shelter and  are  given  transportation  fare onward  to their respective hometowns.  

 

At the airport, the repatriates are  briefed on  the DOLE-OWWA-POEA  ASSIST WELL programs and services,   to  cushion  the impact  of  the Filipino migrant workers’ sudden job displacement resulting from  the political conflict in Yemen. 

HEAD OFFICE
Newly-elected WEA Officers take Oath of Office

The newly- elected officers of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) WelfareFund Employees Association, Inc. (WEA) formally  took oath at the Office of the Administrator last April 6, 2015 before OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado.

 

Right after the induction ceremony, the officers had their first General assembly where they presented to the Administrator their 10-point Priority Programs and Advocacies which includes employee rights and welfare.  

 

The election of WEA Officers took place last February 12, 2015 and the new set of officers was proclaimed the day after.

 

“We will not only promote the rights of employees but we also want the organization to have an economic arm”, newly-elected President Sergio B. Borgueta Jr. said. Among the proposed projects of WEA is the creation of WelfareFund Employees Association Multipurpose Cooperative.

 

“Makasisiguro ang mga miyembro ng WEA na ang mga bagong officers ay magtatrabaho, magseserbisyo at may patutunguhan” Borgueta added as a promise to the WEA members.

 

At present, the organization has 351 members comprising of OWWA Employees from the Main, Regional and Overseas Offices.

 

The newly- inducted WEA Officers are as follows:

 
President: Sergio B. Borgueta, Jr.
Vice President: Martel R. Dasayon
Secretary: Zandro R. Almendrala
Treasurer: Maria Divina A. Motas
Auditor: Demetrio G. Ilano
Business Manager: Gregoria T. Lim
PRO: Maria Luisa S. Eddun
Sgt. at Arms / Marshall: Tristan Arvin A. Perez
  Vincent E. Co

 

 

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