Dole to repatriate 22 more OFWs from Syria-A A +A
Friday, October 19, 2012
MANILA -- Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz Friday reported that another batch of 22 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) is ready to be repatriated from conflict-stricken Syria.
This will bring to 2,536 the total number of OFWs the government have repatriated to the Philippines since the Syrian civil war erupted.
Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Damascus is fully cooperating with the Philippine Rapid Reaction Team in ensuring that all OFWs, documented and undocumented are safely repatriated to the country.
“This is the latest batch of OFWs arriving from Syria and we are surely grateful they are safe. Upon their arrival, the government is ready with a package of assistance that will hopefully make them decide to stay put and forget their horrific experience,” Baldoz said.
After receiving the report on the latest batch of OFW repatriates, Baldoz instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) to ensure that the returnees are fully assisted—from the airport, to their temporary accommodation in Manila, to their families in the provinces. The Owwa, as standard operating procedure, will give free mandatory medical examination and psycho-social counseling to arriving OFWs.
According to the latest report of Dole’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (Ilab), the government has so far sent home 2,514 OFWs, or 61.45 percent, of the total 4,091 OFWs who have applied for repatriation since the war broke out in March 2012 in Syria. Of the number, 1,456 are undergoing repatriation process. Only 121 OFWs have withdrawn their application, the POLO had reported. As of Oct. 11, 2012, there had been 7,959 OFWs registered at the Philippine Embassy in Damascus.
The ILAB reported that 465 of the total 4,091 repatriation applicants came from critical Syrian areas of Homs, 361; Idlib, 13; Hama, 73; and Daraa, 18. Of the number, 295 had been repatriated, while 170 are undergoing the repatriation process.
Secretary Baldoz said the Dole, through its Polo in Damascus, is working closely with the rapid reaction team in identifying and locating the whereabouts of OFWs remaining in Syria.
“There are only 248 OFWs still in Polo’s FWRC in Syria as of Oct. 1,” Baldoz said, noting that Labor Attaché to Syria Angel Borja and Welfare Officer Hector Cruz are working double time in securing their employers’ and the Syrian government’s cooperation so they could be safely brought home to the Philippines.
Baldoz has assured OFW returnees and their families that the Dole shall provide them economic assistance in the form of livelihood starter kits and business start-ups through the “Balik-Pinay, Balik Hanap Buhay Program.” The livelihood kits and business start-up assistance include home-based livelihood business development, skills training, and starter kits worth P10,000. (PNA)