BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
About 13,000 repatriated workers in Western Visayas have availed of P136 million one-time financial assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, at P10,000 for each beneficiary, OWWA Region 6 officer-in-charge, Rizza Joy Moldes, said.
Moldes led the distribution yesterday of financial assistance to families of overseas Filipino workers from Negros Occidental who died abroad due to the pandemic, and the beneficiaries of Balik Pinas-Balik Hanapbuhay at the Provincial Capitol Social in Bacolod City.
She said there is still an ongoing validation and approval for other beneficiaries, on top of the Balik Pinas-Balik Hanapbuhay program, where a repatriated worker may avail of as much as P20,000 in financial grant, depending on the business proposals presented and approved.
The families of three OFWs, who died abroad due to Covid-19 and of natural causes, received P120,000 in financial assistance, scholarship assistance for dependents and relatives, as well as P15,000 livelihood assistance for the surviving spouse. Beneficiaries of the Balik Pinas-Balik Hanapbuhay program received P20,000 each.
The livelihood grants under OWWA’s Balik Pinas-Balik Hanapbuhay were given to enable OFWs and their families to start or manage a livelihood undertaking through self-employment. The provincial government also provided supplemental financial assistance, Moldes said.
If an OFW died of natural causes, a similar amount will also be availed of by his or her family, and P200,000 if a death was caused by accident, she added.
From March to Dec. 8 this year, Moldes said that OWWA facilitated the repatriation of 56,000 OFWs in Western Visayas, and 9,600 of them are Negrenses.
Before the awarding of financial assistance, a forum on Migration and Development, and Reintegration for OFWs, was also held at the Capitol to address the numerous issues concerning migration and enhance government interventions.
WORSENED BY THE PANDEMIC
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said that the pandemic worsened the issues and problems of migration, caused the displacement of thousands of Filipino migrant workers all over the world, and some even died because of the virus. He stressed the need to create more economic opportunities in the country.
“We shall not waiver in our efforts to boost the positive, and reduce the negative effects of labor migration, and to protect our fellow Ngrenses, who leave in the hope of finding a better future for their families,” Lacson said.
He added that the effective collaboration between the national government, LGUs, NGOs and other stakeholders is necessary to address successfully the multi-faceted concerns of Filipino migrant workers.
Lacson also received a plaque of recognition from OWWA Region 6 in recognition of the province’s invaluable repatriation and reintegration services to OFWs in Western Visayas, especially at the height of the pandemic.
He also received a token from the Federation of OFWs-Negros Occidental for his effort in helping Negrense OFWs.
The PCMD officers, led by Lacson, also held a pledge of commitment, followed by the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the provincial government, OFW Negros Occ. Federation Inc., and Center for Migrant Advocacy Philippines Inc. for the establishment of a migrant center at the provincial level that aims to address the need for better migration assistance and governance. Also present at the activity were Board Members Ryan Gamboa and Andrew Montelibano, Negros Occidental Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz, executive assistant to the Governor and PCMD Secretary Marie June Castro, and OFWNOFI president Sally Barrios, among others.*