Senator Win Gatchalian on Wednesday called on the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to craft a comprehensive plan to reintegrate more than 10,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are expected to be repatriated from Kuwait following the Duterte administration’s decision to implement a complete ban on the deployment of OFWs to the Middle Eastern country.
“As the government agency primarily tasked to the safeguard the welfare of OFWs, the OWWA needs to be proactive in steering the government’s efforts to reintegrate these repatriated workers into Philippine society,” Gatchalian said.
Sec. 35(a) of the OWWA Charter (Republic Act 10801) provides that “the reintegration of OFWs, taking into consideration the needs of women migrant workers, shall be one of the core programs of the OWWA.”
The main office in charge of implementing this provision is the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, an attached office of the OWWA. The law further provides that “not less than ten percent (10%) of OWWA’s collection of contributions for the immediately preceding year shall be allocated annually for the reintegration program.”
“Pursuant to its mandate, the OWWA, through the National Reintegration Center, must come up with a comprehensive plan to ensure that the OFWs returning from Kuwait are able to find new job opportunities, pursue further education and skills training, and gain access to other essential social services,” said Gatchalian, the primary author of the OWWA Charter.
The senator also announced that he would support the passage of a supplemental budget to increase funding for the reintegration program, if necessary.
“It is possible that the unexpected mass repatriation of OFWs stationed in Kuwait will stretch the OWWA’s repatriation and reintegration capacities. If this is the case, then OWWA should immediately request additional funding from Congress to ensure that all of the repatriated OFWs will be sufficiently covered by the reintegration efforts,” he added.