MANILA — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz on Sunday encouraged overseas Filipino workers who had voluntarily came home from Libya to accept the offer of the DOLE of entrepreneurship and livelihood programs and other services so they may favorably consider the option of staying permanently in the Philippines than continuing their economic adventures abroad.
“We have a menu of programs and services available for our returning OFWs. They can accept our offer of entrepreneurship and livelihood. Of course, we can also refer them for wage employment, locally and overseas, but we prefer that they stay home,” Baldoz said, after Labor Acting Secretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad III reported to the Secretary that the first batch of 64 OFWs who voluntarily came home from war-torn Libya has arrived.
The OFWs had thanked the government for their safe return from Libya.
Among them were Manuel Aquino, 39, of Lumban, Laguna, who served as camp boss in charge of workers’ accommodations and catering; Ricardo Ledesma, 34, of Pandi, Bulacan, a scaffolder; Roger Estrovillo, 42, of Kabacan, North Cotabato, a pipe fitter; Cyril Tupaz, 53, of Navotas, Metro Manila, who worked at Alfannia Company; Ricardo de los Reyes, 57, of Bagbagin, Caloocan City, a mechanical engineer; and Rufino Ronquillo, 50, of Baesa, Quezon City, a worker at the Federation World Islamic Call Society Project Bureau.
In an interview, they expressed satisfaction at the Philippine government’s contingency assistance through the POLO and the Philippine embassy. They also expressed gratitude to the companies which employed them in Libya for their magnanimous assistance allowing them to avail of voluntary repatriation back to the Philippines. At the airport, some of them suggested possible skills training for their children. They were promptly referred to the DOLE’s Region III Office.
Baldoz also said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration will extend the necessary legal assistance to the voluntary repatriates on any work settlement claims.
Lagunzad, together with POEA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and members of the DOLE’s Libya Crisis Quick Response Team that Secretary Baldoz established to assist repatriates from Libya, welcomed the 64 OFWs upon their arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Secretary Baldoz emphasized that the Philippine government had offered the OFWs the free mass repatriation program, saying the safety of OFWs is the priority of the Aquino III administration.
Lagunzad echoed Secretary Baldoz’s message to the OFW repatriates, strongly encouraging them to avail of the DOLE’s reintegration program and services.
“The DOLE’s National Reintegration Center for OFWs is mandated to provide necessary support to enable our OFWs to acquire pertinent skills in livelihood and entrepreneurship, or employment skills,” Baldoz said.
Of the 64 repatriates, 41 arrived on board Emirates Airlines Flight EK 332 and 23 arrived on board EK 334. Lagunzad, Cacdac, and OWWA personnel stationed at NAIA provided assistance to all the repatriates.
Other government officials who joined Lagunzad and Cacdac in welcoming the 64 OFWs were POEA Deputy Administrator Liberty Casco; Ambassador Rene Villa and Gil Corea of DFA-OUMWA; Labor Attaches Nasser Mustafa and Merriam Cuasay; Welfare Officer Eduardo Mendoza, Jr.; OWWA Center Facilitator Yolanda Peñaranda; Christine Valido and Deogracias Grafil of the Office of the Vice President; and officials and employees of the Labor Communications Office, Manila International Airport Authority Public Affairs Office (MIAA-PAO), and Bureau of Immigration.
For hotlines available to the public on the Libya crisis, please dial any of the following: Libya Crisis Response Team: (02) 557-2124; (02) 557-3000 local 715; OWWA: (02) 833-6992 or 0917-898-6992; and the POEA hotlines (02) 722-1144 or (02) 722-1155.