Press Release
August 23, 2020

Villanueva: Senate labor committee to scrutinize reintegration program, deployment prospects of OFWs

Reintegration programs for displaced overseas Filipino workers and the prospects of their deployment are among the topics that the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development will be tackling in its upcoming hearing on Tuesday, Aug. 25, according to Senator Joel Villanueva.

Villanueva, who chairs the committee, said he would seek from officials of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) its plans to help OFWs reintegrate in the domestic labor market as demand for workers overseas continue to plummet over the global economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Habang patuloy ang pagpapa-uwi sa ating mga OFWs, kasabay po dapat nito ang pagpapatupad ng mga reintegration strategies para matulungan silang magkaroon ng mga alternatibong pagkakakitaan," Villanueva said in a statement. "Kamakailan, binigyan ng karagdagang limang bilyong pisong pondo ang OWWA para sa pagpapauwi ng mga apektadong OFWs at pagbibigay ng tulong sa kanila."

("While the repatriation of our OFWs continue, reintegration strategies should be simultaneously implemented so they have alternative means of livelihood," Villanueva said in a statement. "OWWA likewise was granted an additional P5B budget to ensure that repatriation efforts and assistance are uninterrupted.")

The lawmaker also intends to ask the IATF, DOH and DOLE on their plans to assist OFWs whose deployments were suspended due to the imposition of deployment bans, especially to healthcare workers-OFWs. Earlier, Villanueva called on the DOH and DOLE to establish a referral mechanism to ensure that affected healthcare workers are properly referred to the ongoing hiring exercise of DOH.

The labor committee chair would also tackle issues hounding the seafarers' sector, particularly the prospects of a two-year deployment drought brought about by movement restrictions nationwide. The limited operations of ports across the country, coupled by quarantine protocols, are hampering manning agencies to deploy fresh batches of seafarers for badly-needed crew changes in ships around the world.

The lawmaker earlier appealed to the government to help the seafarers' industry, a dependable driver of foreign remittances, by providing guidelines to allow their movement.

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