An­gara pushes for more funds to boost gov’t ser­vices for OFWs

Manila Bulletin - - Views • Features News - By MARIO B. CASAYURAN

Se­na­tor Juan Edgardo “Sonny” An­gara has pushed for ad­di­tional fund­ing to boost pro­grams and ser­vices aimed at pro­vid­ing over­seas Filipino work­ers (OFWs) with faster and more ac­ces­si­ble gov­ern­ment ser­vices.

An­gara said the Se­nate wants to in­crease the bud­get of the Depart­ment of La­bor and Em­ploy­ment (DOLE), its OneS­top Ser­vice Cen­ters for OFWs to make gov­ern­ment front­line ser­vices ac­ces­si­ble to Filipinos who are cur­rently work­ing and plan­ning to work abroad.

An­gara is vice chair­man of Se­nate fi­nance com­mit­tee. He was tasked to spon­sor the 2019 DOLE bud­get amount­ing to

bil­lion. He said ad­di­tional P5 mil­lion would be al­lo­cated to en­sure that the one-stop ser­vice cen­ters for OFWs all over the coun­try would be fully equipped and op­er­a­tional.

There are at present 18 one-stop cen­ters for OFWs na­tion­wide.

An­gara said that aug­ment­ing the bud­get for front­line ser­vices for OFWs would fur­ther speed up the process for Filipinos look­ing to se­cure gov­ern­ment-is­sued doc­u­ments re­quired for work abroad.

Launched in 2016, the one-stop shop aims to make it eas­ier for OFWs to avail of gov­ern­ment ser­vices. It seeks to re­duce their trans­porta­tion ex­penses and shorten the pro­cess­ing time of their doc­u­ments.

In 2017, such cen­ters served more than 1.4 mil­lion OFWs. The cen­ters con­sol­i­date the ser­vices of at least 14 gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of For­eign Af­fairs (DFA), Over­seas Work­ers Wel­fare Ad­min­is­tra­tion (OWWA), Philip­pine Over­seas Em­ploy­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion (POEA), Tech­ni­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills Devel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (TESDA) and Mar­itime In­dus­try Au­thor­ity (Ma­rina)

The Se­nate also in­tends to al­lo­cate ad­di­tional mil­lion for the emer­gency repa­tri­a­tion pro­gram of DOLE.

“The ad­di­tional fund­ing would pro­vide the depart­ment a standby fund for the repa­tri­a­tion of dis­tressed OFWs in cases of out­breaks or cri­sis par­tic­u­larly in Mid­dle East coun­tries,” An­gara said.

An­gara, how­ever, stressed that aside from safely bring­ing OFWs back home, the gov­ern­ment should en­sure that de­cent jobs and liveli­hood op­por­tu­ni­ties are await­ing them here.

An­gara is the spon­sor of the new OWWA law (Repub­lic Act 10801) that strength­ened the gov­ern­ment’s ca­pac­ity to as­sist OFWs who lost their jobs or those who de­cided to re­turn to the Philip­pines by pro­vid­ing ad­di­tional fund­ing for OFW rein­te­gra­tion pro­gram, which in­cludes free em­ploy­ment and liveli­hood train­ing, ac­cess to credit, and grant money to start their own busi­ness.

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