August 3, 2006
Sen. Jinggoy Estrada pushes for reintegration program for OFWs
Senator Jinggoy Estrada assailed the Arroyo Administrations lack of foresight and failure to formulate a reintegration program for returning Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the wake of the evacuation of workers from war-torn Lebanon.
More than 2,000 workers out of the over 30,000 OFWs in Lebanon have already been repatriated and most of the returnees will go back to their provinces without any work waiting for them or any skills training to find new jobs in the country.
Estrada said the government has been providing many benefits such as tax relief and loan facilities to workers who have been returned due to either retirement, abuse of employers or their contracts have not been renewed.
He said the administration, however, failed to set a viable reintegration program for homecoming OFWs.
The Lebanese crisis showed that the administration failed to draw up a plan for the repatriation of workers in case of emergencies abroad nor a program to reintegrate returning workers to the society, Estrada stressed.
The government, particularly the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) should focus on the reintegration program for returning overseas workers to help them find alternative sources of livelihood when they return to the country.
The DOLE could also find alternative jobs for the workers from Lebanon in a third country.
Estrada said the government should provide more skills training programs for returning OFWs, particularly the low-skilled workers like domestic helpers or janitors, to give them the opportunity to shift to other jobs or careers.
There is a big demand now in the local market for staffers of call centers and medical transcription agencies that usually require only a good command of the English language to qualify for the job. Call center staffers earn much more than ordinary office workers.