Bello vows to redeploy abroad displaced OFWs

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has vowed to forge agreements with more countries to enhance the deployment and protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs during the pandemic.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said a huge number of jobs is on the table and the DOLE will prioritize OFWs who lost their overseas jobs.

He said DOLE is now working out bilateral agreements with Canada, Russia, China and other countries including Thailand for OFW deployments.

Bilateral Labor Agreements (BLAs) are formal accords the Philippines forge with countries of destination to govern deployment, labor cooperation on the protection and promotion of rights and welfare of OFWs, and human resources development.

Since OFW deployment remains limited due to travel restrictions in some countries, Bello advised Filipino workers to continue honing their skills while in the Philippines.

DOLE said a total of 702,000 OFWs were repatriated and have been reunited with their families after undergoing the required quarantine protocols. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), an attached agency of DOLE, leads in providing various assistance to OFWs.

“We also have a program called AKAP or ‘Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong’ under which we provide OFWs US$200 each to OFWs who still in other countries but have lost their jobs, equivalent to P10,000),” Bello shared.

Children of OFWs, he said, also receiving aid through scholarship grants under OFW Dependent Scholarship Program (ODSP), an educational assistance of P20,000 per school year to qualified dependent of an active member OFW whose salary is not more than USD600.

Other DOLE programs for OFWs are OWWA’s Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay (BPBH), Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP) and Tulong Pangkabuhayan Para sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs (Tulong Puso).