Returning Libya OFWs to get P10,000 each

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Thursday, August 7, 2014


EACH and every overseas Filipino worker (OFW) returning from crisis-torn Libya is set to receive P10,000 from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) regardless if they are members or not.

This was the assurance of Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz after the OWWA board has approved the release of the budget for the P10,000 Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP) to OFWs.

"We know that our OFW repatriates from Libya have been displaced from their jobs and have been deprived of regular income because of their abrupt return. The OWWA Board of Trustees has approved the FRAP as one of the means to provide them immediate financial relief," said Baldoz.

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The financial relief assistance of P10,000 is a one-time grant to each qualified displaced OFW, whether a member of the OWWA or not, to help them in their reintegration to the communities.

Aside from the financial assistance, Baldoz reiterated the availability of jobs both locally and overseas for returning workers from Libya.

And contrary to claims of government critics that the workers in Libya are afraid to come home due to uncertainty in availability of jobs, the labor chief said such is not the case.

"The main probable reason some OFWs are adamant to go back to the Philippines is the difference in pay. There are local jobs for OFW repatriates, and it is unfair to say that OFWs in crisis-stricken countries 'refuse' to come home because there are no local jobs available," said Baldoz.

Financial assistance and job referrals are just part of the comprehensive reintegration assistance and services being provided by the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) to returning workers from Libya.

Meanwhile, the OWWA board has also approved the release of €1.4 million (about P82 million) to finance the chartering of a ship that will transport returning OFWs from Libya to Malta.

"The M/S Bridge will sail for Benghazi to load OFW repatriate-passengers, then sail to Misrata to do the same before sailing back to Malta," said Baldoz.

The official said the repatriation by ship is expected to be completed on August 12 as per their estimates.

Aside from the chartered ship, the labor chief said they are also exploring the options to charter flights for OFWs from Libya.

"OWWA Administrator Rebecca Calzado could conclude and finalize the negotiations with Philippine Airlines for those special charter flights out of Malta," said Baldoz.

Baldoz said the Philippine Rapid Response Team (RRT) has been exhausting all possible means to extract OFWs from Libya.

Earlier in the week, the borders in Tunisia and Egypt have been ordered close amid the escalation of tension in Libya with the remaining options out of Libya only the ports of Benghazi and Misrata. (HDT/Sunnex)

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