BAGUIO CITY – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here has conducted an assembly-cum-consultation dialogue with distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families residing in the region.
The activity which was held January this year is a part of the International Social Welfare Services for Filipino Nationals (ISWSFN) being implemented by the DSWD in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs and other partner agencies.
“We conducted the activity to determine the status of the returning overseas Filipinos in distress and their families for us to be able to provide the necessary intervention. But this is not only for the DSWD to work on. For us to provide holistic assistance, we are closely working with other agencies and organizations,” DSWD OIC-Regional Director Janet P. Armas shared.
The dialogue was attended by 48 OFWs, 16 dependents and representatives from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Philippine Employment Service Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority and the civil society organization – Migrante International.
Among the attendees of the activity is 35-year old Andrea Lagtoy from Baguio City. Andrea started working abroad in 2000 when she was just 19 years old. Being a high school graduate, she landed a job as a domestic helper. It was only in 2013 when she decided to return back home to settle and have a family.
“After almost four years, parang gusto na ayaw kong mag-abroad ulit dahil may anak na ako. Lalo na wala na siyang tatay. Solo parent na ako ngayon dahil namatay ang asawa ko days before ko siya naipanganak”, Andrea shared.
“Pero dahil din sa kanya kaya gusto ko na ma-improve ang financial status namin. Kung maari sana bigyan na lang kami ng financial assistance ng DSWD. Siguro yung pampuhunan para may mapagkunan sa pagpapalaki at pagpapa-aral ng anak ko.” Andrea added.
Andrea’s dream is just one of the many aspirations of the OFWs and the dependents who attended the dialogue.
“We are here to open our doors to the OFWs and their families. They have many needs and aspirations. We hope that through the partnership that we have with other agencies and organizations, we will be able to respond to these,” Dir. Armas said.
“Napakahirap iwanan ang ating mga pamilya lalo na’t para sa kanila naman kung bakit tayo nagsusumikap. Pero mas mahirap kung sa kabila ng pag-sisikap ng ating mga kababayan ay naaabuso pa sila sa bansang dayuhan kung saan wala silang ibang matatakbuhan. That is why we believe that working abroad away from our families should be our last option,” she added.
Also attending the activity was Social Welfare Attaché Perlita Panganiban who is among the attachés of the Department actively helping migrant Filipinos and other overseas Filipino nationals in crisis situations and in need of special protection.
“Through our Social Welfare Attaché, we are assured that the concerns of our Cordillera migrants and OFWs are documented and reported to our Central Office. As of now, we have also noted some individuals who are qualified to receive our immediate assistance through our Crisis Intervention Unit. We also have our Sustainable Livelihood Program for long-term assistance. But we commit to look into the cases of the OFWs and their families and provide assistance as necessary,” Dir. Armas said.
Meanwhile, OFWs and Filipino migrants who were not able to attend the activity but have concerns regarding the matter may contact OWWA through (074) 445-22-60 or 300-36-58, TESDA at 447-34-87, DFA at 442-22-58 or 422-14-65, Migrante International through 09234250828 and DSWD at 446-59-61 or 442-39-46.#DSWD-CAR, Social Marketing Unit.
By Nerizza Faye G. Villanueva