Senator Joel Villanueva has called on the government to step up its efforts in assisting displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and give them jobs that match their skills.
“Giving them P20,000 each simply would not cut it anymore,” said Villanueva, referring to cash aid programs that the government has been implementing for jobless OFWs and workers in the country.
The chairman of the Senate labor committee said the massive repatriation of OFWs following the COVID-19 pandemic calls for interventions that would ensure that they can reintegrate smoothly in the labor market.
“The last thing we want to happen is that our OFWs become part of our unemployment statistics,” Villanueva said during an interview with ABS-CBN’s Teledradyo on Thursday night, August 12.
He called on the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to conduct an inventory of the skills and competence of returning OFWs.
“I-match po natin ‘yong available talent sa available jobs. Tungkulin po ng gobyerno na mag-facilitate sa pagitan ng mga workers at employers (We should match the available tent to the available jobs. The government is responsible for facilitating workers and employers),” Villanueva stressed.
The senator also said the situation highlights the urgency of the creation Department of Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos (DMWOF).
He said the Senate bill on the matter, which is being deliberated in the Senate plenary, contains a provision on a “full-cycle and comprehensive” reintegration program for OFWs who have returned and are staying for good in the Philippines.
He said he learned in their committee hearings that reintegration was the “weak link” in the country’s migration policy.
“Kaya po isinusulong at inaaksyonan natin ito sa DMWOF, dahil nais nating maayos ang pagbabalik ng manggagawa sa ating domestic labor market (That’s why we are,” Villanueva explained.
Villanueva maintained that the proposed new department will not perpetuate the deployment of Filipinos as workers in other countries.