BAGUIO CITY – Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III said the labor department through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) initially released P30 million as financial assistance to the over 69,000 families of Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Northern Luzon who were affected by the onslaught of Supertyhoon Lawin.
Bello, who graced the inauguration of the first OFW one-stop service center at the Baguio Convention Center here, said OWWA offices in the different parts of Regions I, II and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) were tasked to conduct a thorough validation on the actual number of the families of the OFWs who were affected by the typhoon and the extent of assistance they need so that the agency will have a basis in facilitating the release of more assistance depending on the capability of the labor department and its attached agencies.
“The 30 million will just be an initial wave of assistance to the surveyed families of OFWs who were affected by the supertyphoon. We will be working out the release of more financial assistance once concerned government agencies shall have submitted their complete report on the actual number of families affected and the extent of the damage they suffered as well as the kind of assistance they need,” Secretary Bello stressed.
He disclosed most of the calamity-stricken OFW families were located in the Ilocos and Cagayan Valley regions while the Cordillera accounted for a smaller number of families that were affected by the typhoon.
According to him, OFWs have played a key role in sustaining the country’s economic growth because of their increasing remittances to their families which contribute to sustaining and uplifting the living conditions of their families that they have left behind in the country, thus, the need for the government to also provide these families with the needed assistance to allow them to recover from the damages that they experienced.
Secretary Bello claimed some of the families of OFWs have partially or totally damaged houses while some of them have reportedly lost their sources of livelihood, thus, the need for concerned government agencies to conduct a thorough assessment to allow government to extend whatever available assistance for them to recover and have a sustained source of livelihood so that their relatives who are working abroad need not work harder to earn extra income for their calamity-stricken families to use to recover from the supertyphoon’s wrath.
He appealed to the families of OFWs to make do with the initial assistance that will be provide them by the government because they are still working out the release of more funding support for them to be able to rise up from the effects of the supertyphoon, thus, the need for them to present to the validating teams pieces of evidence that they were victims of the calamity for evaluation and assessment.