The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) revealed that there are only 34 documented Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from Davao Region to be working in Iraq and Iran.
Carmelo Elaya, chief for Programs and Services Division of the OWWA in the region, said they are urging the OFWs to be repatriated due to the current hostile situation in Middle East.
“The situation in Middle East is in alert level four, therefore we need to repatriate them,” Elaya said, adding that the OWWA has deployed Task Force Gitnang Silangan to assist the OFWs who are affected by the crisis.
Among the 34 documented Davaoeños OFWs, he said 24 are in Iraq and 10 are in Iran.
But the OWWA officer said they believe that there are still undocumented OFWs in Middle East.
“We will not only assist those who are documented but also those who are undocumented workers,” Elaya said. “As long as there are still Filipinos in crisis-affected areas, we will still assist them.”
He said it is “inevitable that there are some OFWs in Middle East who do not want to be repatriated.”
Those, he said, “are already contented with their life or have already settled a family” in the crisis zone.
Elaya added that there will be social debriefing personnel from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) on site to help the OFWs.
Amidst, OWWA constantly monitors the situation of the OFWs in Middle East every now and then.
The OWWA, Elaya said, is offering “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay program” to those distressed OFWs who came from abroad.
“The program is solely for the distressed OFWs-those who don’t want to go back abroad- and there will be a P20, 000 worth of livelihood assistance. We will not provide loan assistance for them to use it as an aid for their documents to be prepared if they will work abroad anew,” Elaya said.
Meanwhile, the undocumented OFWs who want to be repatriated will be receiving a livelihood assistance from DOLE-NRCO (Department of Labor and Employment-National Reintegration Center for OFWs).
By Arvil John P. Lopez
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