OFWs assure situation in UAE still normal but ready to repatriate if needed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 9, 2020   •   1263

Several Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said the situation in their area is still normal but they are ready to repatriate if needed.

Marlon Faeldon, an OFW based in Dubai, said they are also monitoring the situation in the Middle East amid the tension between the United States (US) and Iran.

“Kung saka-sakali mang may utos ang Pangulong Duterte, isa na ako sa mga magvo-volunteer na umuwi kasi ayaw ko namang mag-alala iyong aking mga mahal sa buhay (In case President Duterte orders for a repatriation, I will also volunteer because I don’t want my loved ones to worry),” he said.

Other OFWs also want to assure their families in the Philippines that they are still safe in the Middle East.

“Sa Pilipinas po, huwag po kayong mag-alala, okay lang po kami dito (Those in the Philippines, don’t worry, we are okay here),” according to Sam Labaniego.

“Okay lang kami rito (we are okay here),” Trixsie Mallari assured as well.—AAC (with reports from Bert Cerrudo)

30,000 OFW children in college to benefit from P1-B education subsidy

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 28, 2020

More than 30,000 college students who are dependents of repatriated, displaced, and deceased overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will benefit from the government’s P1 billion education subsidy, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III signed a memorandum of agreement to launch “Tabang OFW”. The program aims to provide a one-time financial assistance of P30,000 to one college-level dependent of a repatriated, displaced, or deceased OFW.

Bello said the program is just one of the government’s ways of reciprocating the sacrifices of overseas Filipinos.

“We hope this will go a long way in helping our OFWs and their children in these most challenging times. By doing this, we also hope we can partly repay our modern-day heroes,” he said.

Under the agreement the Labor Department shall issue orders, circulars or guidelines that will spell out the effective and efficient implementation of the program while the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will release the funds amounting to P1 billion to DOLE for its implementation.

The Unified Student Financial Assistance System for Tertiary Education (UniFAST) will assist DOLE on the promotion and other information dissemination activities of the program. AAC

UAE to release bodies of 2 Filipinos killed in Abu Dhabi gas explosion after probe

Marje Pelayo   •   September 4, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Embassy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Thursday (September 3) confirmed that the remains of the two Filipinos killed in the Abu Dhabi gas explosion will only be released once investigation is finished.

Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana said the UAE authorities want the probe to be completed first before they allow the repatriation of the bodies.

“Dahil ito ay isang aksidente, kailangan muna na matapos ang imbestigasyon at iyan ang aming nililinaw sa mga pamilya at humihingi po kami ng pang-unawa,” Quintana said during the Laging Handa virtual briefing Thursday.

(Because this is an accident, the investigation needs to be completed first. This is what we have clarified to the families and we ask for their understanding.)

The embassy official said they have reached out to the families of the victims to explain the process assuring them that the UAE authorities have committed to expediting the investigation.

“Mismong sila ay nakikipagusap sa pamilya at kami ang nagiging tulay. Kapag natapos iyon ay saka naman natin uupuan kung ano ang next steps para sa mga pamilya na naiwan,” she added.

([The UAE authorities] themselves are communicating with the families and we connect them with each other. Once [the investigation] is done, we will discuss what to do next to assist the bereaved families.]

READ: Two Filipinos died in Abu Dhabi restaurant blast — DFA

Apart from the two fatalities, a total of 10 Filipinos were injured in the blast that happened on August 31. Eight of them were sent to hospitals for treatment.

To date, five have already been discharged while three others are still recovering.

OWWA to roll out group livelihood program for OFWs next month

Marje Pelayo   •   August 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has been affecting millions of Filipinos including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Based on data from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) presented by the Senate Committee on Labor Joel Villanueva in Tuesday’s (August 25) hearing, over 300,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic.

With this, Senator Imee Marcos called for an increase in the credit assistance allowable for OFWs from the proposed P50,000 to P100,000.

However, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said they will not be able to accommodate up to 200,000 OFWs who may avail of the assistance.

According to Cacdac, they may organize a business plan competition wherein they would choose the best business plan from participating OFWs who will be granted the benefits of the program.

OWWA is currently offering a repatriation grant under the micro startups for distressed workers worth P20,000.

Cacdac explained that 70 percent of those who availed the loan have committed the money to investments.

However, they have no data on the success rate of their businesses.

“Hindi tayo sigurado whether or not nag-prosper ang negosyo na iyon. We do have success stories. We do identify iyong success stories. We give them recognition but we do not have the full-pledged data, the complete data as to our success rate,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said.

Next month, OWWA is set to launch a group livelihood program wherein groups of OFWs may borrow from P150,000 to P1 million.

“Ang isang nakikita kasi namin, batay sa karanasan, malaki ang tsansa ng tagumpay kung grupo,” Cacdac explained.

“Kaya ang napagpasyahan ng OWWA Board, ay i-encourage ang group livelihood programs lalo na sa panahon ng pandemya. Baka mas matibay ang negosyo kung grupo po sila,” he added.

Cacdac also said that 60 percent of the 165,000 repatriated OFWs who have returned to their home regions, have applied for DOLE’s AKAP program which is a one-time cash assistance of P10,000.

OWWA targets to complete the distribution of aid to remaining OFWs from the supplemental budget it has received and the fund allocation from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2.

Meanwhile, the labor department added that it has been updating its database and the profiling of repatriated OFWs for the matching of skills to help them find a new job in the country.

DOLE Undersecretary Joji Aragon said they are expecting the business process outsourcing or the BPO industry to absorb most of the OFWs, noting that 90-92 percent of the industry have already recovered from the effects of the pandemic. MNP (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

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