BAGUIO CITY — Different government agencies in the region aligned to implement stop-gap measures as a response to overseas Filipino workers displaced by the global financial crisis.
In a media forum at the Mountain Lodge, here Friday, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (OWWA)Carmelita S. Dimzon said her agency could not do it alone. She said the Cordillera-based agencies and local government units are the most responsive.
Since last year, several provincial migrant desks have been established in Abra, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao and on Friday, Benguet and Apayao, making the Cordillera the most responsive region. Baguio City has earlier set up its own migrant desk, also last year.
The quick response team composed of the clustered agencies under the departments of labor, education, health, and trade and industry.
Asked of statistics on OFWs, however, no data came out from either the OWWA and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
Earlier, an estimated half a million OFWs would be displaced due to the financial crisis. This was based on a worst-case scenario to prepare for the impact of displacement, DoLE Secretary Marianito Duque said then.
Recently, OWWA responded to those working in the Gaza strip, which has been the target of a war of aggression by Israel.
Debriefing and counselling were conducted for women and children coming from the war-torn state, according to Dimzon.
Philhealth, on the other hand, handed down 100 insurance cards to displaced workers from Taiwan, and is now doing some remedial measures for those whose cards have expired due to the retrenchments.
An OWWA member pays P900 for a 12-month hospitalization coverage for the OFW family members. Once retrenched, they could still avail of the unexpired coverage. Once expired, the OWWA member may avail of the coverage for P1,200 a year as a voluntary member, according to PHIC’s Assistant Vice-president Elvira Ver.
The Department of Trade and Industry and DoLE offer small and medium entrepreneurship for OFWs who are inclined in business. The National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) offers its services where it is appropriately needed.
Illegal migrants, or those who opted to stay in the host country despite retrenchment, are not covered by the programs. Worst, if they could not be located, or refused to communicate with family members, no agency could extend help, except the OWWA which usually request the labor attache to help locate the “missing” OFW.
There are 34 OWWA desks worldwide, stationed especially in countries of concentration, according to Dimzon. # Lyn V. Ramo