Consultation to enhance OFWs reintegration held

To further contribute to efforts in enhancing the Re-integration Programme for Overseas Filipino Workers (ERPO) a sectoral consultation concerning migration and development, and crisis management frameworks, was conducted at Grand Regal Hotel, Davao City on Thursday.

Hosted by the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agencies, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and National Reintegration Center for OFWs the one-day consultation is the first among the series of conferences leading to the National (OFW) Reintegration Summit in June 2017.

The consultation was conducted in partnership with the International Organization for Migration.

Since 1987, OWWA has been partnering with Land Bank of the Philippines in the reintegration program which provides opportunities for OFWs to engage in business as alternative to overseas employment.

To further enhance these efforts, on March 2017, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was inked by DOLE and IOM, a United Nations (UN) agency, to implement a two-year project on the adoption of a national master plan for migrant reintegration.

This will be carried out through the National Reintegration Summit declaration; and adoption of relevant department order, administrative circular or implementing guidelines on reintegration.

In an interview, Ricardo R. Casco, National Programme Officer of IOM Philippines said the objectives of the gab are to derive recommendations for policy reforms, service programme initiatives, delivery system improvement and concrete ideas for migrant entrepreneurship, reemployment, and skills training.

“The reason for this consultation is to realize that the work has significance on President Duterte’s aim to lure OFWs to come home,” said Casco.

According to Casco, based on the agreement, IOM functions by providing technical expertise on financial literacy, training reintegration counselors, production of reintegration services duty bearers’ handbook, which covers products and services of relevant institutions, and reintegration services menu for migrant returnees and their families.

The IOM representative noted that the integration information campaign of the government is useless if it fails to provide an enabling environment for the OFWs once they come home.

“Our OFWs have many fears such as the ease of doing business, the concerns on climate because we are always typhoon-hit, the peace and order, will they be a part of the supply or value chain, if they can compete with big businesses in the country, access to farm to market roads, things like that,” said Casco.

Geronico M. Herrera, representative of NRCO, highlighted some of the key results of the sectoral consultation on ERPO in Manila last March. He pointed out, there is a need for synergy among various stakeholders in the Private, Non-government & Civil Society Organizations, and Government stakeholders in order to create a well-defined reintegration program for Overseas Filipino Workers.

“We don’t even have a concrete and accurate data on the number of OFWs,” he said, calling for the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) to improve their databanking techniques.

The Mindanao leg of the island consultation has gathered around 200 stakeholders from private, non-government & civil society organizations, and government agencies.

As defined by International Labour Organization, reintegration refers to the process of going back to one’s country of origin, including preparation and implementation, in which the return may be voluntary or enforced.

The Luzon and Visayas consultations are slated on April 27 and May 9 respectively.