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The OWWA Repatriation Team assists 10 OFWs repatriated from Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on 03 March 2016.  The returning OFWs are part of the group of stranded workers employed by MMG, a construction company in Saudi Arabia, which experienced financial difficulties in 2014. On-going efforts are undertaken by the officials Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, in coordination with other concerned Philippine NGOs to resolve the workers’ predicaments. Aside from airport assistance, accommodation at the OWWA halfway home, OWWA briefed the workers on the Assist WELL Program spearheaded by the Department of Labor and Employment.   From January to December 2015, 308 MMG workers were given assistance by OWWA. More workers from MMG are expected to arrive within the next days/weeks.

 

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OWWA Supports Juana Agenda

 

OWWA joins the nation in the celebration of Women’s Month. This year’s theme, “Kapakanan ni Juana, Isama sa Agenda!” embodies the imperative role of every Filipina in nation-building and that women’s concerns should be included in the government’s development agenda.

 

OWWA Gender and Development (GAD) Focal Committee, headed by Director Carmelina F. Velasquez set and organized the following activities to support and celebrate the said event:

  • Kick-off activity at the OWWA Multi-purpose Hall
  • Film showing featuring female OFWs
  • Posting of the official National Women’s Month Celebration Streamer
  • Photo collage and exhibit at the OWWA lobby
  • Special sessions and Fora on Gender and Women’s issues
  • Participation to the PCW Public event

 

 

In addition to the aforementioned activities, OWWA has also invited Ms. Emmeline L. Versoza, the Executive Director of the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), as guest speaker in its Flag Raising Ceremony on 14 March 2016 at the OWWA Multi-purpose Hall to share her expertise and experience in the area of gender and development.

 

OWWA’s activities for this year’s celebration aims to increase gender awareness by engaging both the RWOs and overseas offices to conduct GAD activities, continuously support the advocacy and prioritize women’s issues in various agenda, and strengthen the advocacy on National Women’s month to OFWs and their families, with emphasis on OFW women’s issues that still need to be addressed.

 

Through the years, OWWA has been a reflection of “women in action”. DOLE, as its mother agency, has been headed by a woman, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, who boldly face leaders from countries where we send Filipino workers and fervently pushed for the implementation of bilateral agreements to strengthen the protection of our OFWs. OWWA has also been headed by female Administrators since 2008. Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado has tirelessly devoted her service in ensuring that OWWA’s mandate of protecting the rights and promoting the interest of OFWs are being lived up to.

 

Female Welfare Officers were also sent to “high-risks posts” in Middle East to ensure more comfortable interaction with our female OFWs. OWWA, thru its regional offices, has also continuously conducted events and seminars to empower female OFWs and their families. Lastly, OWWA’s workforce is comprised of 248 female employees out of the 374 total workers, who passionately serve the OFW sector.

 

 

“I salute each and every Filipina who continues to toil abroad and bravely conquers the costs of migration in order to provide better living for her family and contribute to nation building. I also commend all female OWWA employees who are behind the unceasing service to OFWs. And to all men who love and support women, hats off to you”, Administrator Calzado said.xxx

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MOU-SIGNING on "TANIM BALA"

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz delivers her message during the MOU-signing on the international airport security measures focused on the ‘tanim- bala’ issue at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last week. The Secretary stressed  the  earnest  effort and sensitivity of the Aquino administration to immediately address the matter via ‘awareness’ and  synchronized actions among,  and between the various participating  government agencies involved in providing  services to outgoing passengers, including OFWs, at the country’s  international airports.

 

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MOU-SIGNING on "TANIM BALA"

Heads of various government institutions and implementing agencies present to the media copy of the signed MOU focused on the government’s concerted effort in giving fast, smooth, effective, and transparent transactions to air travellers, including OFWs, at the NAIA and all international airports in the country.  Present during the momentous event were Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC)  Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary  Senen Sarmiento,  Department of Justice (DOJ) Undersecretary Zabedin M. Azis, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Jose Angel Honrado, Philippine National Police-Aviation Security Group PNP-ASG Chief PC Supt. Francisco Baltazar,  Office of  Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Roland Recomono, DILG-Undersecretary Peter Irving Corvera, DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad,  and National Prosecution Service) NPS-DOJ representative Atty. Theodore Villanueva.

 

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OWWA Extends Assistance to Families of OFW Fire Victims in Iraq

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado leads the OWWA Repatriation Team to extend airport assistance to the families of the 13 OFW victims from Iraq, who perished in a fire that gutted the hotel where the “Pinays’ worked. The OFWs’ remains arrived on a Saturday afternoon, 13 February 2016. According to initial investigation by the Iraqi authorities, the victims were at the basement of the hotel when the fire broke out. The victims died of suffocation from the fumes. After the documentation procedures, the remains of the OFWs were released to the consignees and brought home to their respective residences.

 

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OWWA Extends Assistance to Families of OFW Fire Victims in Iraq

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado briefs the families of the 13 OFWs who died in a fire incident in Iraq last week. The OWWA head gave words of encouragement to comfort the grieving relatives of the Pinay workers. The OWWA Repatriation Team extended necessary assistance to the families of the fire victims, including facilitation of the documents for the release of the cadavers to their respective consignees. Arrangements were also made to ship the remains of OFWs living in the provinces. Families of OFWs who are active OWWA members at the time of their death are entitled to receive benefits from the agency that include death and burial benefits, education and livelihood assistance. However, all families of departed OFWs are accorded airport and documentation assistance from the OWWA personnel assigned at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

 

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OWWA Extends Assistance to Families of OFW Fire Victims in Iraq

The families/relatives of the 13 OFWs who died from a fire incident in Iraq wait for the return of the bodies of their loved ones last Saturday, 13 February 2016 at the cargo area of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado headed the OWWA Repatriation Team in extending assistance to the families of the female Filipino migrant workers. The OWWA Repatriation Team stayed until the wee hours of the morning to assist the families of the deceased OFWs in the documentation procedures at NAIA in order to release the OFWs’ bodies to their respective consignees.

 

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MOU-SIGNING on "TANIM BALA"

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado and POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac share their thoughts during the momentous signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on ‘tanim-bala’. The MOU aims   to synchronize the government’s effort of ensuring the protection of all outbound passengers/travellers, especially OFWs, from the Philippine airports to safeguard the rights of the passengers, without compromising the security measures implemented inside the premises of the Philippine international airports. The MOU is an offshoot to address/eliminate cases associated with the alleged ‘tanim-bala’ issue   victimizing passengers and OFWs. The MOU-signing was held on 16 February 2016 at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

 

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21 OFW nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers from Kuwait are the initial beneficiaries of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)-led Assist WELL Program whose primary objective is to extend immediate assistance to returning OFWs who are displaced due to war or other distressful situations or economic problems in countries where they work, or are victims of calamities, epidemics, and labor problems. Assist WELL is acronym for Welfare, Employment, Legal and Livelihood program for returning OFWs. The 21 Filipino migrant workers are the first recipients of the program when it was launched last week at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) building in Ortigas, Pasig City.

 

The returning female OFWs were met by OWWA at the NAIA in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait.

 

“Hindi nasunod ang nakasaad sa pinirmahan naming kontrata kaya nagdesisyon kami na umuwi na lang ng Pilipinas,” these are the words the returning OFWs who supposedly applied for employment in a hospital in Kuwait as nurses, assistant nurses, and medical workers, but ended up as care givers instead.

 

According to OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado, who met the female OFWs when they were brought to OWWA Center in Pasay City, the remaining 8 OFWs who have no relatives in Manila will be temporarily accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home, before proceeding to their respective provinces. Out of the 8 OFWs, 5 are from Mindanao, while the rest are from the Visayas and Luzon.

 

The affected workers narrated about their work experience and the reason why they opted to be repatriated. One of the nurses disclosed that instead of working in a hospital, they were forced to work in different homes as caregivers depending on the need or call of their foreign recruitment agency (FRA). Their situation, the OFWs added, was aggravated when they were paid only for hours worked which is a violation of their contract. More so, common quarters provided by their FRA served as their accommodation.

 

Under the Assist WELL program, affected workers will be provided temporary shelter. A one-stop-shop processing center will be established to attend to the immediate needs of OFWs upon their return to the country. The processing centers will institutionalize the availment of various assistance provided by DOLE and its attached agencies to OFWs. The agencies involved are OWWA, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).

 

Aside from temporary shelter, the OFWs will also be offered legal assistance, transportation fare, as well as OWWA’s “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” livelihood assistance program. Returning workers may also be referred by the participating government agencies for local employment, or in another country of their choice. Other Assist WELL Centers are located in selected DOLE and OWWA Regional offices nationwide.

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The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has extended airport assistance to the families of the 13 female OFWs who perished in the fire that gutted a hotel in Iraq. The remains of the OFWs were repatriated last Saturday, 13 February 2016, via Emirates Airways (EK) flight 332 at 4:00 P.M.

 

Seven (7) cadavers were released to the families who patiently waited at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (cargo). The rest were shipped to their respective provinces in Mindanao via PAL.

 

The OWWA Repatriation Team assisted the families of the departed Filipino migrant workers in going through the process of releasing the remains of the workers.

 

OWWA Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado has also personally appeared before the bereaved families.

 

“We feel sad about the fate of our “kababayans” who perished in the hotel fire. However, as mentioned by Labor Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, we assure the families of those who died in the incident who were active OWWA members at the time of their death, that they will receive full benefits from OWWA,” Administrator Calzado said.

 

Eligible families will receive Death and Burial Benefit amounting to Php 220,000.00 and Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP), a one-time scholarship-cum-livelihood grant for the surviving heirs of an active OWWA Member.

 

The names of the fatalities were withheld in respect to the situation of grieving families.

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