President Rodrigo Duterte hands P5000 cash assistance from OWWA to the repatriated OFWs from Saudi Arabia. He was assisted by Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello and Social Welfare Sec. Jusy Taguiwalo. Photo by Nikko Dizon
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Monday offered a package of services from the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) WELL program to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) repatriated under the Saudi amnesty program.
WELL stands for Welfare, Employment, Livelihood, and Legal Assistance which will give OFWs a chance to work and sustain their families.
In a statement, DOLE said that the agency’s team headed by Bello and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) team extended airport assistance to returning OFWs, such as the travel document processing, use of a special immigration lane, and baggage assistance.
President Rodrigo Duterte, together with Bello and other cabinet members welcomed 139 Filipinos granted exit visas under Saudi Arabia’s “Nation without Violations” amnesty program on Monday.
The 90-day Saudi Arabian amnesty program was launched last March 29.
“On the same day, I deployed a ‘Rapid Response Team’ composed of DOLE Undersecretary Dominador S. Say, Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac, OWWA, Deputy Administrator Brigido J. Dulay, OWWA lawyer Cesar L. Chavez, Jr., OWWA and POEA lawyer Anna Patricia P. Jacobo to assess the situation of the OFWs availing of the amnesty program,” Bello said.
He said that due to the goodwill generated by Duterte’s visit, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia chartered a plane to fly the OFWs back to Philippines and shouldered the expenses.
Meanwhile, OWWA provided post-repatriation services to its members which include temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, psychosocial counseling and stress debriefing, as well as transport services.
Each worker, whether an active or inactive OWWA member, received P5,000 cash assistance from the Office of the President as well as an additional P5,000 from DOLE and OWWA.
OWWA members can also avail a non-cash livelihood package worth P10,000 consisting of a starter kit and techno-skills training, called the “Balik-Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Program.”