Press Release
November 5, 2013

Jinggoy: Activate OFW reintegration mechanisms

Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada says that the government must now activate reintegration mechanisms for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in light of the implementation of Saudization policy and crackdown of illegal foreign workers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This developed as Saudi Arabia, a top host country for OFWs, starts the implementation of a nationalization program of its workforce following the lapse of the November 3 deadline set for the correction of status of illegal and undocumented workers in the Middle East country.

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are an estimated 674,168 overseas Filipinos in Saudi Arabia.

"Thousands of OFWs have already been repatriated and are expected to return to the country following the Saudization policy. Our government, particularly the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies, must be ready to receive and assist displaced workers through its reintegration mechanisms," Jinggoy says.

Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, also called on the authorities to strengthen such reintegration programs in preparation for possible nationalization policies across the world intended to ease unemployment rate among its nationals.

Sen. Estrada noted that apart from Saudization, there was also Emiratisation or the preferential treatment of local workers in the hiring process in the United Arab Emirates, another Middle East country which is a top destination of OFWs. Similarly, Singapore has recently announced tighter rules on hiring foreign professionals and has been encouraging companies to accommodate more of its nationals, especially the elderly, as employees.

Republic Act 10022 or the amended Migrant Workers Act, prescribes the creation of a mechanism for reintegration of returning OFWs into society, local employment, and tap their skills and potentials for national development.

Specifically, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) is tasked, among others to "cushion the impact of forced repatriation due to unexpected events." Included in its roster of reintegration tools are skills training and upgrading, financial literacy and money management, micro-enterprise development, job assistance for local or overseas employment, and rescue and economic assistance.

RA 10022 also states that the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the Technology Livelihood Resource Center (TLRC), and other government agencies involved in training and livelihood development shall give priority to returnees who had been employed as domestic helpers and entertainers.

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