DOLE sets new rules for benefits, loans of displaced OFWs
MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment is drafting new guidelines in the grant of benefits and loans to displaced and repatriated overseas Filipino workers.
In a statement, DOLE said Secretary Silvestre Bello III announced the proposed changes in a recent dialogue with the repatriated workers from Mohammad Al-Mojil Group of companies in Saudi Arabia, wherein he vowed to assist returning workers seeking assistance in claiming their unpaid financial and security benefits from their employers.
“Give us all the proper papers and documentation and we assure you of the labor department’s assistance in claiming your unpaid wages and benefits. We have also created a technical working group to thoroughly review the rules and guidelines in applying for a loan,” DOLE quoted Bello as saying.
Bello has announced that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, whose board he chairs, has raised the enhanced livelihood assistance given to the displaced OFWs from P10,000 to P20,000 cash assistance.
He said DOLE and OWWA have also been negotiating with the government-owned Landbank of the Philippines in clearing out various terms and requirements in granting loan assistance for the distressed
Landbank grants loan assistance amounting from P50,000 to P300,000 for the OFWs who can provide legitimate collaterals such as land titles and other valued assets with a regular interest rate of 8 percent.
DOLE is requesting to reduce the interest rate to 6 percent and exclude the collateral requirement because DOLE would be the guarantor of the OFWs, Bello said.
“We are reviewing the rules for the loan. For those who are interested in applying, there will be no collateral because we will be your guarantor. Take good care of your money and attend our livelihood training so that you won’t find the need to leave the country again,” Bello said.
Meanwhile, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said first-degree relatives, such as wives and children of the deceased OFWs as well as OFWs still abroad could now process the claims and loans, by presenting proper documentation.
“We are finalizing the rules for the loan with the officers of Land Bank of the Philippines. We hope to sign a memorandum of understanding with them in June,” Cacdac said.
The DOLE’s efforts to help the OFWs came after hundreds of them from the Middle East lost their jobs and were sent home due to the closure of their companies that were affected by a financial crisis, as well as the introduction of government policies favoring local laborers.
The OFWs were repatriated by the government and a large number of them are formerly working for Mohammad Al-Mojil Group. The Department of Foreign Affairs, DOLE, and OWWA are exerting all efforts in assisting the OFWs in claiming unpaid wages and benefits from their employers. SFM/rga
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