Press Release
July 17, 2006


Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada, chairman of the Congressional Oversight Committee on Labor and Employment (COCLE), yesterday appealed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to immediately find alternative jobs or provide livelihood programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) that were displaced by the fighting in Lebanon between Israeli troops and Hezbollah militiamen.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) had reported that some 30,000 Filipinos are working in Lebanon, most of them domestic helpers, but the worsening situation in Labanon have prompted Philippine embassy officials to prepare for the evacuation of OFWs.

Estrada said the thousands of workers that are expected to be displaced from Lebanon once the war escalates, cannot be absorbed by the Philippine labor market and the returning workers will find it hard to get local jobs immediately.

According to Estrada, the government should focus on establishing a viable reintegration program for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) including but not limited to enhancing their skills to ensure their global competitiveness.

In the meantime, Estrada said, the DOLE should find alternative jobs in other countries or alternative sources of livelihood for the returning overseas Filipino workers, including those who were displaced in Lebanon.

We should intensify the reintegration program and provide more skills training for returning OFWs, particularly the low-skilled workers like domestic helpers or janitors, to give them the opportunity to shift to other jobs or careers, Estrada said, adding: "There is a big demand now in the local market for staffers of call centers and medical transcription agencies that usually require only a good command of the English language to qualify for the job. Call center staffers earn much more than ordinary office workers."

Estrada said Maybe officials from DOLE should study the prospect of training returning domestic helpers on how to speak better English and enable them to qualify for call center jobs. However, if Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) TESDA cannot provide the retraining programs needed for todays job market in the country, the agency should be allowed to accredit training agencies abroad to assist the government in the retraining program for overseas workers.

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