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OWWA offers Php20k livelihood aid for terminated OFWs

06 December 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao

Filipino migrant workers who have lost their jobs prematurely due to termination, maltreatment and other employer violations of their contracts can apply for a Php20,000 livelihood aid from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration on their return home.

This little-known benefit was disclosed recently at Filipino community gatherings by new welfare attaché Marivic Clarin, and confirmed in an interview on Nov 22 by Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre.

Welfare Attaché Marivic Clarin
According to Labatt dela Torre, terminated workers who go home for good are endorsed to OWWA offices in the workers’ regions.

“Lahat ng terminated na umuuwi, binibigyan namin ng endorsement sa regional offices ng OWWA” so they can receive the livelihood aid, Labatt Dela Torre said.

But it appears there has not been a lot of takers in the eight years that the “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” program has been in existence.

Statistics from the Department of Labor and Employment show that only 260 OFWs have received the benefit as of the end of the third quarter this year.

This may be because OWWA is said to be meticulous in evaluating the returning worker’s proposed project so that the financial aid does not go to waste.

“Kasi, yung iba, ipinambabayad lang sa utang,” Clarin said.

She said the intent of the program is to help distressed OFWs, primarily wards of government shelters who have cases against their employers, those who are terminated for medical reasons, or are laid off due to their employers’ financial difficulties.

Clarin said the cash assistance comes with a development training to provide the recipients basic skills in doing the livelihood project of their choice.

The training is said to be provided by OWWA, other government agencies, as well as non-government organizations and OFW cooperatives or groups in the regions.

Evaluation and supervision of the project is conducted to ensure its success, especially now that the aid amount is bigger than before, Clarin said.

The livelihood assistance was put in place during the tenure of Former President Benigno Aquino III, but the aid given at the time was in the form of starter kits worth Php10,000.

Clarin said that since 2016, the livelihood grant had been doubled to PhP20,000.

But she admitted that the success rate among aid recipients has been low “because not everyone is cut out for business”.

One recipient, an illegally terminated worker from Naga City, told The SUN she applied for the assistance in January 2016 and got a check for PhP10,000. She said the check was not issued to her but to a local merchant who provided her a starter kit for her project.

Another former Hong Kong-based OFW who went to Russia only to discover it was a job scam, said she tried applying for the livelihood assistance but balked when she was told she would have to stay in the Philippines for good.

In Nueva Vizcaya province, where former OFWs have formed a cooperative and undertaken livelihood projects, there were 85 recipients of the OWWA assistance as of the end of the third quarter this year, said its president Cristina Gauuan Reyes.

She said in her barangay, there are 20 recipients whose projects, namely piggery, sari-sari store and fish vending, are being coordinated by the cooperative.

She said the “Balik-Pinas, Balik-Hanapbuhay” beneficiaries in the 15 municipalities of Nueva Vizcaya received PhP20,000 each, which they put into their chosen businesses. They received help from the provincial government in the form training.

The reintegration program was introduced to help former OFWs rejoin Philippine society by offering them livelihood opportunities if they decide to stay home for good.

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