PNoy assures returning OFWs from Egypt of jobs
MANILA - President Aquino yesterday assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning from war-torn Egypt of jobs as he noted that the government is ready to provide them with livelihood assistance once they get home.
Aquino gave the assurance as he distributed relief goods to flood victims in Mandaluyong City. He said the government had been through a similar situation before when OFWs were repatriated from Libya in 2011.
“That’s automatic job prospects for any returning OFW. I’m sure Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz is ready to assist them together with TESDA (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) and other government entities,” he said.
The government on Tuesday ordered a mandatory evacuation of about 6,000 Filipinos in Egypt as it noted increased clashes in Cairo.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario has issued crisis alert level 4, noting the worsening security situation in Egypt’s capital.
Aquino said the repatriation would be a continuing process, especially since he has approved the initial $240,000 funding for the purpose.
The fund was sent to the Philippine embassy in Cairo for the evacuation of Filipino domestic helpers and students.
As to the prospects of jobs in the country, the President recalled that the national government has been able to provide employment to about 4,000 OFWs repatriated from Libya.
The OFWs were hired by construction firm AG&P as soon as they arrived home.
“In this case, because this is forced evacuation, and because 5,000 is not an inconsequential number, I’m sure the concerned government agencies have been preparing for this,” he said.
“The situation is really serious, otherwise we will not call for level 4, which is forced repatriation, and I’m sure the embassy in Egypt has been preparing for this,” he added.
Crisis alert level 4 entails mandatory repatriation at the expense of the Philippine government.
A Rapid Response Team arrived in Cairo on Aug. 17 to assist in the implementation of the repatriation program.
Del Rosario ordered the deployment of a special team to Cairo to help speed up the repatriation.
He visited Egypt early this week to look into the escalating violence, DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez said.
While in Cairo, Del Rosario met the Fil-Egyptian girl who was wounded in a clash in Helwan, south of the capital. He said the girl was recovering and in good spirits.
Over 1,500 OFWs returning
The DFA said the first batch of OFWs from Egypt was repatriated yesterday as it noted that three of the workers came from Cairo and two from Alexandria.
Their flight was set to arrive at 4:20 p.m. yesterday.
Over 1,500 Filipino workers are returning from Egypt in the next two days, according to the Department of Labor and Employment.
Baldoz said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the local recruitment agencies are working together for the issuance of plane tickets for 1,543 Filipinos in Egypt.
Baldoz ordered POEA chief Hans Cacdac to closely work with licensed agencies regarding the repatriation within 48 hours.
Most of the 1,543 returning OFWs are domestic workers, nurses, hotel workers, production technicians, and skilled workers, such as stone setters.
She ordered Cacdac to monitor insurance agencies who insured the deployed OFWs.
The POEA earlier imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Egypt. The ban covers vacationing workers, spouses of Egyptian nationals, Islamic University students, and their dependents.
POEA issued a total deployment ban after the DFA raised crisis alert level 4.
To facilitate repatriation, Baldoz sent welfare officer Robert Basig from Abu Dhabi to United Arab Emirates and welfare officer Eduardo Mendoza from Manila to Cairo.
She ordered Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Carmelita Dimzon to prepare assistance package under the National Reintegration Program for OFWs, particularly livelihood and job referral assistance, temporary shelter, medical care, and counseling. – With Mayen Jaymalin, Pia Lee-Brago