More college scholarship slots still open for children of OFWs affected by pandemic — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   December 18, 2020   •   990

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is still accepting application for college scholarships granted to children of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the government has alloted P1 billion for the scholarship program “Tabang OFW” (Tulong OFW) wherein around 32,000 student beneficiaries are entitled to receive one-time financial assistance of P30,000.

Based on the agency’s records, around 7,000 applications so far have been approved and Bello said the application will still be open until next year for school year 2020-2021.

Application procedures may be accessed through OWWA’s official website.

DOLE suspends deployment of domestic workers to Saudi Arabia

Maris Federez   •   November 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has suspended the deployment of newly hired household service workers (HSW) to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia following reports of domestic workers being abused by their employers in the said country.

Based on an urgent memorandum by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the suspension will not be lifted until guidelines on the recruitment of domestic workers are finalized.

Bello directed the Philippine Overseas Labor Officer (POLO) in KSA to stop the verification of documents of newly hired HSWs to be deployed in the said country.

Bello cited a report regarding a certain retired general in Saudi Arabia named Ayed Thawah Al Jealid who still continues to recruit Filipinos to work in the said country despite complaints of abuse lodged against him.

The DOLE chief said Al Jealid always seemed to get through the verification of employment contract processes of POLO and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) by using other individuals to pose as employers.

“POEA and POLO need to come out with a new set of verification guidelines to prevent the abuse committed by Gen. Ayed (Thawah Al Jealid) in KSA,” Bello said.

“Gen. Ayed was able to circumvent POLO and POEA rules on verification by placing in the employment contract a pseudo-KSA employer when in fact he was the real employer,” he added.

Bello recommended to the POEA and POLO to indicate the addresses of the blacklisted employers alongside their names.

“Under the new verification guidelines, it’s not only the employer who is blacklisted but also the address of the employer,” Bello said.

Meanwhile, POLO-KSA clarified that only newly hired household service workers are included in the said suspended deployment.

It added that the deployment of domestic workers with renewed contracts and skilled workers is still in effect.

“The suspension does not include verification of renewed contracts of HSWs. Except for Mega and Construction companies, the suspension does not also affect the processing and verification of employment documents relating to the hiring of skilled workers,” it said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Aileen Cerrudo)

Government, business groups to create 1M job opportunities for Filipinos — DOLE

Marje Pelayo   •   June 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) leads key government agencies in a collaboration with major business groups to create one million jobs this year.

The project is in line with President Rodrigo Duterte’s approval and signing of an executive order adopting the National Employment Recovery Strategy (NERS).

NERS is an employment recovery plan from 2021 to 2022 which aims “to create a policy environment that encourages the generation and improved access to employment, livelihood, and training opportunities; improve employability, wellness, and productivity of workers; and provide support to existing and emerging businesses to preserve and create employment.”

Coincidingly, the EO prompts the formation of a task force to oversee the project’s implementation.

“This project synchronizes with safe and gradual reopening of the economy and addresses the impact of the prolonged community quarantine to thousands of smaller enterprises and millions of Filipinos workers,” noted Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The project known as Reform, Rebound, Recover: One Million Jobs for 2021 prompts the business and employers sector to primarily identify job vacancies from its member companies and find jobs for the qualified but unemployed jobseekers.

Through the NERS Task Force, the government sector will secure vaccination for workers who qualify for the partnership project.

Also, it will organize job caravans; provide a profile of workers who can be referred to existing job vacancies; and offer transportation services to workers who will get their vaccination jabs.

DOLE deployment ban to Saudi Arabia leaves hundreds of OFWs stranded at NAIA

Marje Pelayo   •   May 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) bound for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) were not allowed to leave on Friday (May 28) after the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) issued a temporary deployment ban to the Kingdom.

Based on the memorandum issued by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), there were reports that several OFWs were being obliged by their recruiters or employers to shoulder all COVID-related expenses including the insurance premium imposed upon entry to Saudi Arabia.

To date, the department has yet to receive any definite guidelines from the KSA if OFWs are exempted from their policy regarding the ban on unvaccinated foreign travelers or those who have been vaccinated with a brand that is not allowed by the Saudi government.

Based on reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Riyadh, OFWs are being charged up to P1,000 dollars before departure from Manila.

“Wala naman kaming na-receive sa POLO na nagreklamo na worker but as I have heard from Manila, sa Manila ko narinig na may mga nagrereklamo dyan,” said Labor Attache Fidel Macauyag.

“That prompted our secretary and on top of that walang clear guidelines ang ating mga advisories dito sa Saudi kung sino ba talaga ang magbabayad,” he added.

As a result of the temporary ban, about 500 OFWs were left stranded as they weren’t allowed to fly despite their existing contracts.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) was also surprised by the announcement but proceeded even with an empty flight because there are Filipinos waiting for their flight to the Philippines in Riyadh.

Those who were affected have the option to rebook their tickets to another date once the ban is lifted.

POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia, for his part, promised to address the problem while waiting for clear guidelines from the Saudi government.

“Konting pasensya at konting sakripisyo kasi po ang ginagawa natin ay para sa kapakanan ng nakararami,” Olalia noted.

“Lahat po tayo ay makikinabang dito lalong lalo na ang mga OFWs na pinagbabayad ng institutional quarantine, pinagbabayad ng insurance coverage, pinagbabayad ng COVID-19 test at hindi po kinikilala ang mga vaccine na vaccinated na yung mga OFWs natin,” he added.

Olalia assured that the Overseas Worker Welfare Administration (OWWA) will shoulder the accommodation expenses of the stranded OFWs as well as their fare returning to their respective hometowns as a result of the ban. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)


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