Monday, January 10, 2011

1,555 OFWs repatriated in 2010 — govt data

Some 13,000 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in various countries were provided legal assistance and refuge by the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) last year, government records show.

The records also show that 1,555 OFWs were repatriated in 2010 — 540 in the first half and 1,015 in the second.

Citing a report from the International Labor Affairs Bureau, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said most of the OFWs who received assistance from FWRC were women awaiting resolution of their cases or approval of their exit documents in their host countries. 

At present there are 20 FWRCs: six in Asia (Hong Kong, Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, Taipei and Singapore); 12 in the Middle East (Riyadh, Alkhobar, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait, Libya, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Lebanon and Jordan), and two in Europe and Americas (Greece and Saipan).

Baldoz said the FWRC received at least 1,200 distressed OFWs a month who sought help last year.

“To provide for the needs of wards, the [Department of Labor and Employment] had appropriated P78.8 million for the operations of the Centers in 2010," she said.

“Our [Philippine Overseas Labor Offices or POLOs] have also been alerted to remain vigilant not only in implementing the development programs for OFWs on site but most especially in providing immediate assistance to OFWs in need," she added.

Runaway OFWs

She said POLO staff, led by the labor attaché, regularly meet with runaways to provide them counseling services and discuss individually the status of their cases. 

Skills training classes are also provided to the distressed workers staying at FWRC, she said.

In November 2010, the total number of wards at the FWRCs recorded was 1,206, with 705 documented and 501 undocumented OFWs. The highest number was recorded in the Middle East, with Kuwait ranking as the highest with 221 wards, followed by Dubai, 172, and Jordan, 153. 

Baldoz said that OFWs stay at the FWRC for as long as needed, depending on the nature of their cases.

Some undocumented OFWs with ATN (assistance to nationals) cases such as rape, physical abuse, theft, alleged theft, murder, pregnant, with babies, have been accommodated at FWRC for almost a year or more. 

Wards with labor cases and other non-ATN cases, on the other hand, usually stayed at FWRC from 15 days to three months. They are provided safe place to stay and meals by the POLO while their cases are undergoing hearing, or are under negotiations with their employers and agencies. - KBK, GMANews.TV

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