Senator Sonny Angara has called on the government to ensure that there are jobs and livelihood assistance awaiting back home for distressed Filipino workers who will be repatriated from Kuwait.

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the Department of Labor and Employment to bring home overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in 72 hours following the discovery of a Filipina’s body in a freezer in the Gulf State.

“Bukod sa pagsiguro sa kanilang kaligtasan, dapat ay may trabaho at tulong pangkabuhayan na naghihintay para sa ating mga kababayan mula sa Kuwait,” said Angara, sponsor of the law strengthening the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

The new OWWA law or Republic Act 10801 has improved the government’s capacity to assist OFWs who lost their jobs or those who decided to return to the Philippines by providing funding for OFW programs and services from the national budget.

OWWA’s reintegration program includes employment and livelihood training, access to credit, and grant money to start their own business.

Under its Balik Pilipinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Program, beneficiaries can get cash grants amounting to P20,000.

OWWA, together with Landbank, also provides P100,000 to P2 million loan with collateral requirement for those who want to establish businesses.

Aside from repatriation and reintegration, OWWA offers legal assistance, placement and remittance assistance, insurance coverage, social benefits, and educational assistance for OFW dependents.

Meanwhile, the President has declared that the suspension of deployment of Filipino workers to Kuwait will not be lifted. Some 300 Filipinos apply for work in Kuwait every day.

“We support the President’s ban on OFW deployment to Kuwait. Our kababayans do not deserve this kind of inhumane treatment. Sa halip na disenteng trabaho, pang-aabuso ang napala nila doon,” said the vice chairman of the Senate labor committee.

An estimated 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, 75 percent of which are domestic helpers.

An estimated 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, 75 percent of which are domestic helpers. Many OFWs there have complained of being treated badly, receiving no salary and other forms of abuse.

“We should intensify our job creation programs. Kung may sapat na trabaho sa bansa, hindi na nila kailangang magtrabaho abroad at iwan ang kanilang pamilya,” added Angara, who shepherded the passage of nine labor laws to address unemployment in the country.

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