Davao LGU urged to establish OFW Center

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 July) – A migrants’ group urged the city government for the full implementation of an ordinance that seeks to establish an overseas Filipino workers (OFW) center under the City Mayor’s Office.

Inorisa Sialana-Elento, of the Mindanao Migrants Center for Empowering Actions Inc. (MMCEAI), lamented that City Ordinance 056-08, also known as OFW Center Ordinance, has not yet taken effect since its enactment on January 15, 2008.

The center will look into the concerns of the OFWs, most especially the distressed workers, and their families, she said.

Elento surmised that the center has not been put up until now for lack of funding from the city government.

In a recent meeting with the representatives of Integrated Gender and Development Division (IGDD), City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO), City Planning and Development Office (CPDO), and Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), Elento added it was recommended that the center be placed under the Public Employment Service Office (PESO) for the meantime until such time that a separate office will be put in place under the City Mayor’s Office.

Elento added it is necessary that the center will be put up within the year because government lacks a mechanism to track where the people are going abroad to work.

The city, or even the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), also has no mechanism in place to know how many migrant workers it has, she noted. The last record was still way back in 2000 where over 10,000 Dabawenyos were reportedly working abroad.

“But that was still in 2000. The number has already gone up today,” she said at the sidelines of Kapehan sa Dabaw on Monday.

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, the briefer added.

“Promote better understanding of the situation of the OFWs, including local and international issues that concern them,” it added.

MMCEAI has partnered with Davao Food Revolution to advocate for empowerment of the OFWs who returned home and for their families to earn a livable income.

Elento said that the migrant workers should learn how to grow their money while they are still working abroad and not after they have returned home.

Davao Food Revolution has gathered 50 individuals, 20 of them are already manufacturing food items such as polvoron and yema, while the other 30 are growing crops in their backyard.

“We are recommending the urban container gardening because we don’t have that much of space to plant,” she added.