THE House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs chaired by KABAYAN Party-list Rep. Ron Salo held a hearing on Thursday to discuss benefits and assistance which may be extended to returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) affected by conflicts and disasters abroad.
The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), apprised the panel of their ongoing initiatives to ensure that the government meets OFWs’ immediate and long-term welfare and livelihood needs.
DMW Office-in-Charge (OIC) Atty. Hans Leo Cacdac stated that the OFW assistance mostly comes from the P1.2-billion action fund allocated for legal, medical, and humanitarian support.
According to DMW OIC Cacdac, distribution of the fund to qualified beneficiaries began in April 2023, assisting 5,325 individuals. Beneficiaries included OFWs affected by the Turkey earthquake, disasters in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai and Qatar, as well as conflicts in Sudan, Lebanon and Israel.
OIC Cacdac explained that returning OFWs are eligible for an outright monetary assistance of P30,000, while those affected by conflicts are eligible for a sum of P50,000.
OWWA Director Jocelyn Hapal reported that her office provides counselling, skills training, financial and reintegration planning, as well as pre-departure briefing. “At the on-site, OWWA conducts counselling, and we have profiling of OFW returnees so that we have a better knowledge of their qualifications, of their credentials, so that it can appropriately guide us on what reintegration needs can be provided,” she said.
OWWA also has various reintegration programs, assistance for specialized repatriation cases, special livelihood and educational assistance for surviving family member, disability and death benefits, among others.
The panel also briefly deliberated on House Bill (HB) 370 or the proposed welfare and social assistance program to families left behind by OFWs; and HB 8560, seeking protection of minor children whose parents are OFWs employed abroad. Both bills are authored by OFW Party-list Rep. Marissa Magsino.
The committee suspended deliberations of HBs 176, 5902, 6612 and 8574, seeking to establish the OFW Social and Retirement System due to the lack of material time for discussions. Rep. Salo filed HB 8574, seeing as imperative the creation of a separate and dedicated social security and retirement system specifically for OFWs. He said the system would provide comprehensive social protection, ensuring the OFWs’ overall wellbeing. “It would offer financial support in the event of job loss, disability, or death, providing a safety net for OFWs and their families during challenging times. Additionally, it would establish a retirement fund, enabling OFWs to secure social and financial protection in their old age, granting them the dignity and peace of mind they deserve,” he said.