BAGUIO CITY – Some two hundred twenty-three distressed Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the different parts of the Cordillera availed of the assistance from the regional office of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA-CAR) since 2014 that allowed them and their families to recover from their harrowing experiences caused by their employers abroad.
Evelyn Laranang, OWWA-CAR regional director, revealed that for this year alone, some 75 distressed OFWs from the different parts of the Cordillera availed of the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program while the remaining number were cases accumulated since the program was implemented in 2014.
The OWWA-CAR official explained the program is a package of livelihood support or assistance intended to provide immediate relief to returning member-OFWs who were displaced from their jobs due to wars or political conflicts in host countries or policy reforms, controls and changes by the host government, or were victims of illegal recruitment or human trafficking and pre-termination of contracts or other distressful situations.
In 2014, Laranang disclosed the livelihood assistance was pegged at P10,000 maximum consisting of a techno-skills or entrepreneurship trainings, starter kits or goods and such other services that would enable the target beneficiaries to quickly start a livelihood undertaking through self- or wage employment.
However, she disclosed the original concept of the program was amended by Memorandum of Instruction (MOI) No. 005, series of 2017 issued on May 28, 2017 which increased the livelihood assistance to a maximum of P20,000 for start-up or additional capital for the livelihood project; entrepreneurship development training; other services that will enable the target beneficiaries to start or manage a livelihood undertaking through self-employment, such as provision of marketing linkages and job referral.
According to her, the eligible beneficiaries who can avail of the benefits of the program include the OFW returnees who are OWWA members, active or non-active who were displaced by hostilities or wars or political conflicts, policy reforms or changes by host governments, victims of illegal recruitment or human trafficking and other distressful situations, distressed wards at the migrant workers and overseas Filipino resource centers who are due for repatriation and repatriated OWWA members who were employed by foreign employers which are faced with financial difficulties due to economic conditions, such as construction and maintenance companies in Saudi Arabia.
Further, she added OWWA members who availed of emergency cash relief due to mass evacuation or repatriation of workers shall be eligible to avail of the program, provided that, they manifest clear intention to engage in livelihood projects.
Laranang emphasized the program can be availed only once by eligible beneficiaries within 3 years after return to the country and only OWWA members who have decided to return to the country for good after their overseas employment shall be entitled to the assistance.
She pointed qualified workers who availed of the earlier starter kits shall be entitled to receive the additional cash assistance of P10,000 under the new rule.