DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /30 Nov) – A migrants’ group will hold the 6th Anak OFW Festival on December 6 at the People’s Park in Davao City where around 150 to 200 families of Filipinos working abroad or returned OFWs will gather.
Speaking in Monday’s Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City Davao, Inorisa Sialana-Elento, executive director of the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc. (MMCEAI), encouraged the families of OFWs to participate in the event as they have lined up a forum where they can learn how to address issues concerning their families who are abroad to seek for better opportunities.
“This is where the OFWs’ families can share to others their experiences, be they good or bad,” she said.
There will be discussions to get their views on issues about the “balikbayan boxes” and “tanim bala” that recently made headlines as several Filipinos, including the OFWs, have already been victimized.
Elento appealed to the local government for the full implementation of a 2008 local legislation called OFW Center Ordinance that seeks to establish an OFW center under the City Mayor’s Office.
Once fully implemented, she said that the lack of data on the Dabawenyos working abroad, which has always been a problem, can be resolved once the center is put up.
“Help us call on the city government for the full implementation of the OFW center which has not been implemented since April 11, 2008,” she said.
Even agencies such as Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) do not have specific data how many people from the Davao Region are working abroad, Elento noted.
The city, she said, lacks mechanism on the data collection. The data are necessary for the planning of the programs, services, and budgeting, she added.
“The data should not only include OFWs abroad but also those who have returned, who among their family members want to work abroad because many of them want to land jobs in other countries for better opportunities,” Elento said.
The migrants’ group even demanded that at least P2 million be allocated just to make the office functioning and start with the database to trace what countries most of these OFWs are working.
Under Section 6.B of the ordinance, one of the functions of the center is to conduct OFW profiling.
It also ensures gender sensitive education and trainings for all migrant workers by establishing standards of course contents integrated in their Pre-employment Orientation Seminar (PEOS).
Other direct services as provided for in the ordinance include legal, health, and livelihood assistance.
It also provides free direct line telephone services for OFW families and dependents.
Meanwhile, the MMCEAI is active in providing direct assistance and services to OFWs and their immediate families.