BY JUDY PARTLOW
A total of 447 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were repatriated and have returned to Negros Oriental amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic with the help of the Dumaguete City help desk.
The OFW Help Desk was initiated by the Public Employment Service (PESO) headed by its manager, Maria Socorro Mira.
The return of the OFWs was done in coordination with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Negros Oriental Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Mira said the city’s help desk facilitated the return of stranded and repatriated OFWs not only from Dumaguete but also from other parts of Negros Oriental.
“We are the only one with an OFW help desk so almost all OFWs from Negros Oriental come to the PESO Dumaguete asking for assistance,” she said.
She added that the city PESO is recognized by the OWWA in Cebu as “being very active”.
The desk assisted stranded OFWs and those who were repatriated to access information and guidelines on the financial assistance given to them by OWWA.
Currently, these OFWs are processing their applications for various assistance and services from the government through the PESO, Mira said.
Some of the programs and services offered by the PESO OFW help desk are for social benefits, disability and dismemberment benefits, death and burial benefits, supplemental medical assistance for OFWs (MEDplus), welfare assistance, education and training assistance to include pre-departure education, training for Filipino seafarers, and scholarships for their dependents.
The PESO OFW Help Desk was created through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the regional OWWA office and the city government to facilitate welfare cases, access to Overseas Employment Certificates, and repatriation of abused and deceased OFWs, Mira said.*PNA