OWWA 11 ready to support repatriated OFWs from Saudi

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 18 April) – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) 11 said it is ready to receive Dabawenyos who were among the 331 undocumented overseas Filipino workers (OWFs) repatriated this month after being granted with amnesty by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

OWWA 11 director Eduardo Bellido told reporters on Monday that they have yet to learn how many of the 331, including the 150 who arrived early Monday alongside President Rodrigo R. Duterte, are from the Davao Region who will receive the assistance from OWWA 11 through its reintegration program.

“We are ready to accept those amnesty availers,” he said, adding that all systems are in place.

Bellido said these OFWs are the ones who availed of the 90-day Amnesty Program of the KSA dubbed as “Nation without Violations” that grants official pardon to residents whose Iqama (resident permits) expired on or before March 19, 2017; workers with work permit but no Iqama ID card; runaway workers reported as such on or before March 19; Umraj and Haj permit; and infiltrators crossing Saudi borders.

He said that OFWs who returned home received P5,000 from OWWA and another P5,000 from Duterte.

For OWWA members, Bellido said OWWA 11 offers P10,000 worth of non-cash livelihood package while non-members will be referred to the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) for a separate non-cash training and livelihood program.

He said the reintegration program for the OFWs starts even before they leave for abroad while overseas workers are subject to reintegration preparedness as they land jobs.

“When they come back, the reintegration program is enforced. Either they want to go into wage employment, business, or learn skills for employment. They have a lot of choices. It depends on what they want,” Bellido said.

He added that the government provides airport assistance, post repatriation services that include shelter at the OWWA halfway home, psychosocial counseling/stress debriefing, medical referral, and provision of transport services or fare for their onward travel to their respective provinces.

Bellido said the International Organization for Migration (IOM) will hold a one-day Island Consultations on Enhancing the Reintegration Programme for Overseas Filipino Workers in line with the Migration and Development, and Crisis Management Frameworks on April 20.

The consultation is aimed to review the national reintegration framework and enhance the service delivery program for returning OFWs. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)