DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 August) – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it is ready to evacuate over 100,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Guam should North Korea make good its threat to launch missiles against the US territory in the Pacific.
In an interview Friday, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told reporters that a repatriation program has been discussed by the agency’s International Labor Affairs Bureau to prepare for such contingency.
“We have a ready program for them the moment a problem escalates there and we need to repatriate them through OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration),” he said.
He said OWWA has a budget of P1 billion for the repatriation of OFWs, including those in Guam and the Middle East where there is a concentration of migrant Filipino workers.
For the assistance, OWWA gives P5,000 cash and P10,000 worth of non-cash livelihood package for members while non-members will be referred to the National Reintegration Center for OFWs for a separate non-cash training and livelihood program.
The government provides airport assistance, post repatriation services that include shelter at the OWWA halfway home, psychosocial counseling, stress debriefing, medical referral, provision of transport services or fare for their trip back to their homes.
But Bello doubted North Korea’s capacity to launch a missile attack against Guam.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing on Thursday that the consular office in Agana, Guam has a contingency plan “to enable them to respond to emergencies.”
“So in other words, it’s pretty automatic that if there are any threats, especially for those in affected areas, they have contingency plans for those things,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)