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PIA Press Release

Reintegration program eyed for OFWs

By Minerva BC Newman

Cebu City (31 October) -- The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will create a reintegration secretariat that aims to help returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) especially those affected by conflicts abroad.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Esteban Conejos told a press briefing recently that at least 200 of the 600 Filipino oil workers in Kazakhstan want to return to the Philippines as situation in their worksite has yet to normalize. "While Filipino engineers and supervisors have already reported for work on October 25, the other Filipinos are staying in their barracks until an adequate security is in place."

In a press release, DOLE Secretary Arturo Brion said, the objective of the reintegration program is mainly to assist returning OFWs find local jobs or re-employment overseas to continue supporting their families and to successfully re-integrate them into the country's socio-economic mainstream on their return.

"Our aim is to assist further our modern day heroes, who are sacrificing abroad for the sake of their loved ones, upon their return home, following their productive work engagement in overseas economies," Secretary Brion explained.

The DOLE secretary further said, the program has three dimensional approaches and will be implemented in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices abroad with the returning OFWs and their families taking part in the re-integration program.

First, the program includes Community and Economic Reintegration, with the traditional existing program of DOLE that will assist returning OFWs find local jobs or employment overseas, or business and retraining opportunities will also be pursued.

Second, community re-integration will be pursued in cooperation with their respective local government units and relevant sectors to help the returning OFWs and those still working overseas, who want to take part in the development of their countrymen.

Third, under the economic re-integration program, the government shall continue to improve the remittance channels for the OFWs and encourage, as well as assist those intending, to invest soundly and productively from their remittances and earnings, and re-integrate into the country's mainstream economy with government assistance.

According to the press release, the total global deployment of OFWs increased by 5.2% from 802,478 in the same period last year, to 844,034 between January 1 and October 9, 2006 while the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that amid the growth in the global deployment of OFWs, the total remittances increased by 15.3% to US$8.10-Billion from January to August 2006, over the comparable period last year. (PIA-Cebu) [top]

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