Capitol, OWWA ink agreement on OFW assistance centers

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – The Provincial Government of Pampanga together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the City and Municipal Governments of Pampanga signed a memorandum of agreement establishing the OWWA-Pampanga Welfare Assistance Program Processing Centers here.

These centers shall ensure a more effective and timely delivery of services to the OFWs and their families.

Present in the agreement signing are Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Governor Lilia “Nanay” Pineda, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE-3 Director Ma. Zenaida Angara-Campita, TESDA-3 Director Dante Navarro, OWWA-3 Director Ma. Lourdes Reyes, Department of Trade and Industry-Pampanga Director Elenita Ordonio, and the Department of Science and Technology-Pampanga Director Ma. Michelle Quiambao.

According to the memorandum of agreement, there shall be centers in Mabalacat City; Sta. Rita, Lubao, Macabebe, and San Luis towns; and in the Provincial Capitol compound representing the four districts assigned in consideration of their unique geographical characteristics.

The identified centers shall determine the eligibility of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families availing medical and bereavement assistance under the Welfare Assistance Program. They will also be providing information as well as accepting applications for the other programs and services of OWWA.

All local government units are tasked to provide employees and other support for the full operation of the assistance centers.

In her message, Governor Pineda lauded the efforts of DOLE under Secretary Bello for the welfare of the OFWs. She also said that OWWA’s assistance will augment the already existing financial assistance of the province to the OFWs.

“The President noted that the families of our OFWs are the ones who need the government’s help. They are having a hard time coping with the absence of their loved ones, that is why we are taking action in lending our hands to them,” she added.

She also bared that she and Secretary Bello are discussing a program converging DOST, DTI, TESDA, Pagibig Fund, including the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to fully assist the families of OFWs.

In aid with the OFWs and their families with their healthcare, the provincial government will assign special wards in Jose B. Lingad Regional Memorial Hospital and in all of the hospitals of the Capitol attending to their health needs.

“They will be prioritized in our public hospitals in return for their valuable service for our province and country,” she said.
Bello meanwhile said that the assistance centers will bring accessibility for the OFWs and that these will bring faster processing of their benefits.

He added that they are already laying out a command center for OFW concerns in Quezon City which is operational 24/7.

“They can call the DOLE hotline 1349. We are hoping that eventually as soon as we get the budget, we will be assigning centers to the region or better, up to the municipal level,” he said.

Also present in the event are the municipal and city mayors led by Pampanga Mayors’ League President Mylyn Pineda-Cayabyab, Board Members Cherry Manalo, Gerome Tubig, Rolando Balingit, and Olga Frances David-Dizon, and the city and municipal Public Employment Services Officers.

According to the 2016 Survey on Overseas Filipinos, Central Luzon, including Pampanga, is third among the regions with the biggest share of overseas workers with 12.7 percent following CALABARZON and National Capital Region with 21.0 percent and 12.9 percent, respectively. –Philip Ocampo/Pampanga PIO