DOLE assures Hong Kong OFWs of government protection and reintegration assistance

Date Posted: March 10th, 2014 02:44 AM

Myrna Padilla, from Laoay, Bohol, had worked as a household service worker for 20 years in Hong Kong and Singapore. She is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mynd Consulting, a pioneer, Davao-based outsourcing company that provides web and application development services, graphics design, production services for social networks, and moderation services for user generation content.

Founder of the Mindanao Hong Kong Workers' Federation in 1999, Padilla started applying technology to the management and operation of the federation using a computer donated by her employer, Mr. and Mrs. Fung.

"If Filipinos back home heard how difficult life was for domestic workers working abroad, they would not have wanted to leave," she said in founding the federation, which had helped dozens of exploited OFWs in Hong Kong.

In 2006, Myrna came home and established a business process outsourcing, Mynd Tech Management Services, later to become Mynd Consulting. Aside from attending to her growing business, Myrna today continues her work as an advocate for social change among OFWs. She has not forgotten who she was.

Another successful OFW is Eden Zaniega de Castro-Villa. Eden had worked in Hong Kong as a household service worker to earn for her family in La Union and is now generating much bigger income from her handicraft business, which expanded with financial assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.

The owner of David's Well Crafts and More, Eden, together with husband Lowell, also a former OFW, decided to go home and open a small school and office supplies and craft store after years abroad, and now sell their products at SM Department Stores.

"The DOLE-OWWA's livelihood assistance of P50,000 was a big help. We used the amount to purchase more materials and increase our production," says Eden, whose handicraft products were discovered in a La Union trade fair.

Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz had cited Misses Padilla and Zuniga to assure overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Hong Kong that the government is ready at all times to ensure their welfare and protection as she urged to them to carry-on with their commitment and dedication to work, continue to maintain good relations with their employers, and follow the rules and regulations of Hong Kong authorities.

"These two successful OFWs from Hong Kong could inspire other OFWs to look at their present situation in Hong Kong today as an opportunity rather than a problem," she said.

Baldoz's assurance came after Hong Kong announced that it will scrap visa-free travel privileges for all Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders effective 5 February.

"OFWs are not going to be affected by the reported suspension," said Baldoz, adding that Filipino travelers who are holders of regular green and maroon passports are not included in the reported suspension of the 14-day visa-free arrangement with the Philippines.

Baldoz said the government is ready to assist all OFWs, not just those in Hong Kong, in any eventuality through job placements in alternative markets in countries in coordination with the recruitment industry.

She added that access to livelihood and entrepreneurial projects under the National Reintegration Program for OFWs is also available at the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), a new office under the DOLE.

"We have tailor-fit programs for returning OFWs, OFWs in distress, and even OFWs who, while in their work destinations, would like to engage in alternative livelihood for better income opportunities," said Baldoz.

These programs include repatriation and welfare assistance, skills training and re-training, scholarships for OFWs and their dependents, psycho-social counseling, and livelihood and entrepreneurship.

"For example, we continue to intensify implementation of our Balik-Pinay-Balik Hanap-buhay Program which provides livelihood starter kits for small, home-based businesses. On the other hand, we have the P2 billion National Reintegration Loan program which aims to support OFWs and their families who plan to put up businesses to maximize the gains of overseas employment, mitigate the social cost of migration, and cushion the impact of forced repatriation," she said.


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