GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 August)– The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Region 12 has released an initial P50,000 in financial assistance to five Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from the region who returned home earlier this month following their repatriation from Libya.
Marilou Sumalinog, OWWA-12 officer-in-charge, said Monday the returning OFWs received cash grants of P10,000 each as part of the emergency assistance package set by the national government for the repatriated overseas workers.
She said the five OFWs, who are mostly from this city, were among the 79 active OWWA-registered workers from Region 12 who agreed to undergo repatriation following the escalation of conflict last month in parts of Libya.
Also known as Soccsksargen, the region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangan and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
“We’re currently waiting for the arrival of the other returning OFWs. Some of them were stranded in Manila while the others are still in Libya and awaiting repatriation,” she said in a radio interview.
Sumalinog said they expect that the 74 other OFWs, especially those who are still in Libya, will be able to return home in the next few weeks as the government-led evacuation of workers from the strife-torn Middle Eastern nation is presently ongoing.
The Department of Foreign Affairs ordered the mandatory evacuation of OFWs in Libya last July 20 after raising the area’s situation to alert level 4 in response to its “extremely unstable political and security situation.”
As of Sunday, the national government already repatriated a total of 2,727 OFWs Filipinos from Libya.
Sumalinog assured that they have enough funds to cover for the emergency cash assistance of the returning OFWs in the region.
But she said only workers who were repatriated or returned home after July 20 are eligible to avail of the P10,000 financial assistance.
“Once they report to our office, we will immediately process their financial assistance and release them within the day,” she said.
Aside from the immediate cash grant, the official said the repatriated workers may also avail of other assistance packages under its OFW reintegration program.
She cited specifically the business loan program that is being implemented by the agency in partnership with the Land Bank of the Philippines.
Sumalinog said they may avail of livelihood assistance in the form of starter kits for their preferred or chosen small business ventures under the “Balik Pinas-Balik Hanapbuhay” program.
“We can also refer them to some local employment opportunities and possible deployment abroad through the POEA (Philippine Overseas Workers Employment Administration),” she added. (MindaNews)