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