THE Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Armm) is undertaking active initiatives to curb the problems of unemployment including those displaced from their jobs abroad, an Armm official said.

Armm Labor Secretary Myra Alih said her agency is on the verge of carrying out the mandate of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) the Armm forged recently with G-20, a Malaysian pool of recruitment agencies concerning hiring of Filipino "household workers" in Malaysia.

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Alih disclosed that the first batch of hired workers from Armm would be deployed to Malaysia after the fasting month of Ramadan and each of them are assured of $300 monthly pay with accommodation perks.

"Take note that we are now using the term household workers not domestic helpers because we would like to give them due dignity. These workers will undergo rigid training and screening at the regional level and another two weeks of rigid training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia," Alih said.

Alih explained that these trainings are meant to avoid abuses of employers usually provoked by incompetent workers.

"There are already 1,000 job orders with ready passport for Kuala Lumpur for Muslim women household workers from the Armm with a minimum pay equivalent to 300 US dollars," she added.

Alih said that job-seeker under the MOU must be 23 years old or above and preferably a graduate of the Technical Education and Skills development Authority (Tesda) Housekeeping course or a former Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW).

Under the MOU, at least 36,000 prospective job-seekers would be hired from the areas of Armm alone, Alih said, hinting the growing confidence of local and foreign entities over the present Armm leadership.

She assured that no placement fees will be charged except that the qualified applicants will only pay for their required medical certificates and passports.

Alih advised applicants to go to any labor offices in the Armm and fill up and submit their application forms together with their passports for former OFWs and their NC2 certificates for Tesda graduates.

"We have already an ongoing assessment and validation of qualified applicants now and hopefully after the Ramadan we will already be sending initial batches of workers to Kuala Lumpur," Alih said.

She said they will launch a one-stop shop center in our office wherein we will tie-up with other concerned offices to shorten the time and make it more economical for our applicants to process their needed documents.

"We are also lobbying in the Malaysian Embassy here in the Philippines to accredit our local hospitals in the region so that our applicants can easily get medical requirements," she said.

Alih said that Department of Labor and Employment in Armm will also provide a feedback mechanism to monitor and secure the safety of the household workers from the autonomous region.

She assured applicants that through this initiative, workers will be guaranteed of a more secure and rewarding job opportunity.

She said employers will pay for expenses all the way from Armm to Kuala Lumpur and that Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards will be provided to the workers and their families for remittance purposes.

"Food and culture in the Kuala Lumpur is almost similar to ours in the Armm so we are very confident of this employment initiative of the regional government," Alih said. (Bong Garcia)