OWWA gives financial help to returning OFWs from Libya

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 March) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao has released some P50,000 worth of financial assistance to five of the eight overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the region who returned home earlier this week following their repatriation from Libya.

Abdulghani Umag, OWWA Region 12 director, said Thursday the five repatriated OFWs received the initial grant assistance of P10,000 each that was allocated by the national government for overseas workers who have been displaced due to the worsening internal conflict in Libya.

He said the beneficiaries, who were among the repatriated OFWs who already sought assistance from their office, were from this city and the nearby provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

“We made some adjustments to expedite the release of the grant assistance because our beneficiaries really needed them,” he said.

Umag said they are currently waiting for the three other repatriated OFWs to contact their office and avail of the financial assistance as well as the livelihood packages being offered by OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Based on the OWWA regional office’s records, he said only 8 of the 46 documented OFWs who were employed in Libya have so far returned to their respective hometowns in the region.

But he said they received confirmation that some of the OFWs from the area, among them nurse Ian Villanueva who was earlier stranded in Greece and Dubai after escaping along with several OFWs from the strife-torn city of Benghazi in Libya, have already arrived in Manila.

Umag said they are also waiting for several repatriated OFWs from the provinces of North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat to coordinate with their office.

Meantime, DOLE Region 12 chief Ma. Gloria Tango said they have started the profiling of the displaced OFWs from the region to allow them to avail of additional assistance packages from the agency.

She said the profiling scheme will help the agency determine the needs of the displaced workers and their possible livelihood and employment options.

Tango said the agency may assist the displaced OFWs in finding new job placements, either local or overseas-based, should they choose the employment option.

She said DOLE has initially set several jobs fair as part of its employment facilitation program for the repatriated OFWs.

Aside from the scheduled jobs fair on March 18-20 at the SM North Mall in Metro Manila, she said several colleges and universities in Region 12 have also set several job fairs for this month.

Tango said those who would choose the livelihood option may avail of individual or group-based loan grants of at least P50,000 from OWWA and DOLE as well as entrepreneurial development trainings from concerned government agencies.

She added they may also refer the repatriated OFWs to the Technical Education Skills and Development Authority (TESDA) to avail of technical skills trainings should they decide to take up the skills enhancement option. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)