PALAYAN CITY — Aided by a cane, Ismael Etrata, 54, of the Science City of Muñoz on Monday went to the newly opened business hub here to check on work options for him at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa).
Etrata was a company driver in Saudi Arabia for nine years until he had to slow down due to high blood pressure in 2012.
Traveling to the Owwa office in Metro Manila had been taxing, he said, so he decided to come instead to labor offices hosted by Palayan City Business Hub during the soft opening for extension offices of various government line agencies that make up a One-Stop Service Center for OFWs (Ossco).
Ossco is led by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA). The POEA has its own provincial office inside Ossco.
The other government agencies inside Ossco are the Philippine Statistics Authority, Professional Regulation Commission, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Bureau of Internal Revenue, Maritime Industry Authority, Social Security System, Philippine Health Insurance Corp., Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority, Owwa, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, National Bureau of Investigation and Bureau of Immigration.
Gov. Czarina Umali said the hub could serve 60,000 documented overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Nueva Ecija province.
Mayor Adrianne Mae Cuevas said Ossco helped fast-track processing of documents for overseas workers. Also, Ossco in Palayan City brings services closer to OFWs not just from Nueva Ecija but from Aurora and Nueva Vizcaya provinces.
Cuevas is appealing to the DFA to set up a passport processing office at the hub. Putting up more government offices in business hubs in the provinces would definitely help declog Metro Manila, Cuevas said.
Isaac David, chair of Alloy MTD Philippines, which developed the hub, said removing the time wasted in traveling to Metro Manila for documentation would translate to increased productivity.
The opening was attended by heads and representatives of participating agencies, led by lawyer Bernardo Olalia, POEA administrator. He said that Ossco helped labor agencies in its drive to support Filipino workers abroad.
The Ossco in Palayan, according to Olalia, was one of the best designed in the country. The Palayan Ossco was designed according to instructions by President Duterte to make document processing easier.
The Palayan Ossco provides an air-conditioned environment for OFWs with enough seating to avoid queues. —ARMAND GALANG