THE Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) has pushed for the productive reintegration of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to reverse the country’s decades-old labor export policy.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd called on all sectors to support the government’s continuing efforts to help the OFWs, especially those who lost their jobs, through better paying job opportunities to convince them to stay in the country for good.

He pointed out that even with the country’s continued economic growth and improved domestic wages to encourage OFWs to return to the country, the number of returnees is increasing because of crises, disasters and wars overseas.

Last year, the DoLE worked for the repatriation of more than 11,000 OFWs in Saudi Arabia who lost their jobs as a result of the economic crisis brought about by a drop in oil prices in the world market.

Bello urged business to “open your windows for partnership with OFW groups” and asked families of OFWs to prepare for their reunification.

“I call on the local governments to make each province, city and municipality a haven to go back to,” he said in his message at a recent summit on OFW reintegration held at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, adding that services of agencies must “nurture an environment conducive to OFW return.”

The summit, the culminating activity of the Enhancing Reintegration Program for OFWs, will draw up a national master plan for the absorption of returning migrant workers into the local economy.

It is spearheaded by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs and the International Organization for Migration.

“The task seems disconcerting because of the huge number of our returning OFWs… We need to keep the house in order,” Bello said.

He added that there have to be sufficient jobs and businesses available, and infrastructure and peace and order because “this is everyone’s business.” By William Depasupil


The views and opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ASEAN Trade Union Council.