OWWA to set up more help desks for OFWs in R-12

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/7 Oct) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will establish additional assistance desks for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao to help address the concerns of migrant workers from the area.

Abdulghani Umag, OWWA Region 12 director, said Thursday they signed memorandum of agreements (MOA) with various local government units (LGUs) in the region for the activation of the assistance desks and the appointment of public OFW desk officers or PODOs in every locality.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. The region has four provinces, five cities and 45 municipalities.

Umag said a number of LGUs in the region had signed MOAs several years ago regarding the establishment of the OFW desks but most of them need to be reactivated.

“The PODOs will serve as representatives of OWWA and will handle all concerns of OFWs from their respective areas,” Umag said.

Under the agreement, he said the LGUs are tasked to establish the assistance desks and appoint their own PODOs.

OWWA will be responsible in providing the necessary information, training and coordination mechanisms between its regional office and the established assistance desks, Umag said.

Last month, he said they initially conducted an orientation regarding the program and other OWWA projects and activities for the prospective PODOs in Region 12.

Umag said they pushed for the establishment of the OFW desks mainly due to their limited manpower and the noted distance of the OWWA regional office to most localities in the region.

“It’s quite difficult for most of our clients to bring their concerns to us because of the distance and the corresponding travel costs from their areas,” Umag said.

With the activation of the OFW desks in every LGU, he said families of OFWs will have closer and more direct access with OWWA through the assigned PODOs.

“They (PODOs) will receive the complaints or concerns of our OFWs or their families and will immediately endorse it to us,” Umag said. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)