By Erma Edera
The 30 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated back to the Philippines from Kuwait early this week will receive livelihood assistance, according to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said the qualified OFW can receive P20,000 worth of livelihood assistance which consists of business starter kits, tools, and raw materials to help improve their socio-economic well-being.
“We have a number of programs which we can offer to our returning kababayan, one of which is the Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay, where we will assist them in establishing their own business,” Olalia said.
Aside from providing livelihood assistance, he also assured the OFWs that they would provide them legal assistance should they decide to file charges against their Arab employers as well as their recruitment agencies.
Majority of the repatriated OFWs who have sought shelter in the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC) in Kuwait, ran away from their Arab employers due to physical and sexual abuse. Some failed to receive proper wages and benefits as stated in their contracts while the others were barred from contacting the Philippine Embassy as well as their families.
“We are very grateful to POLO OWWA in Kuwait for their assistance. We have truly felt their help as they continued fighting for our rights. If OWWA will provide us with livelihood assistance, I will pursue this first and maybe I can stay in the country for good,” Analyn, one of the repatriated OFWs said.
Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay is a non-cash livelihood support/ assistance which provides immediate relief to returning active or inactive OWWA member-OFWs displaced from their jobs due to war/political conflict in host countries, or policy reforms, controls, and changes by host governments; or were victims of illegal recruitment and /or human trafficking, or other distressful situations.
OWWA officers have also provided airport assistance such as facilitation of their travel documents and screening at the immigration booths, and baggage claims, while those who were waiting for their flights back to their respective provinces were given temporary accommodation.
Other returning OFWs from the Luzon area were given transportation assistance.
The distressed OFWs arrived from Kuwait via Gulf Air on Monday, March 4. They were met by Olalia and officials from OWWA.