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Saturday, April 13, 2024

PBBM vows more aid programs for OFWs; jobs open up abroad

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President Marcos on Wednesday announced various assistance programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and urged them to take advantage of these initiatives.

At a speech during OFW Family Day in Pasay City, the President emphasized the government’s commitment to ongoing programs and initiatives aimed at securing aid for OFWs and improving their families’ quality of life.

“I hope you will make the most of and use these benefits properly,” he said in Filipino. “As you work hard overseas for a better life for your family, we are also working hard to further develop our country so that when you return, you will see significant changes.”

A key initiative is the establishment of the “One Repatriation Command Center,” featuring a 24/7 hotline 1348 available for individuals requiring rescue, repatriation, counseling, and legal assistance.

Additionally, the government is extending services and programs to facilitate the reintegration of OFWs opting to remain in the Philippines permanently.

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More notable programs include the Livelihood Development Assistance Program, Balik Pinas, Balik Hanap-Buhay, Financial Awareness Seminar-Small Business Management Training, Enterprise Development Loan Program, and Tulong Pangkabuhayan sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs.

President Marcos also highlighted government initiatives such as the OFW Children Circle, the OWWA Education and Training Program, Educational Assistance, and the construction of the OFW Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga.

“My wish is for us to be united in dreaming and building a strong, prosperous nation full of opportunities for every Filipino. To achieve this, I encourage everyone to embrace being a modern Filipino,” he said.

In the “new Philippines,” he said, overseas employment would be “just an alternative because there are more opportunities within the country.”

Opportunities in Germany, Greece

Meanwhile, the German embassy said Germany has passed legislation giving skilled workers from around the world, including the Philippines, more opportunities to migrate there.

In a statement, German Ambassador to the Philippines Andreas Pfaffernoshke said he sees vast potential in expanding ties between both countries, particularly with the launching of the Skilled Migration Act.

“We will foster cooperation on the migration of skilled workers to Germany in technical professions,” he said.

The German Embassy in Manila said the new legislation “will introduce novel channels for skilled workers from countries outside the European Union (EU)—including the Philippines —to immigrate to Germany.”

“This act significantly broadens opportunities for individuals seeking entry into Germany and the European Union for the recognition of their foreign professional qualifications. The phased implementation of these new regulations began in November this year,” it said.

For skilled workers with higher educational background, the embassy said, immigration possibilities for them are expanded through the EU Blue Card, which feature lowered salary thresholds, expanded eligibility, an extended list of professions, and facilitated family reunification.

Information Technology (IT) specialists, for example, can secure an EU Blue Card, based on professional experience alone, without a formal qualification.

The measure also ensures that skilled workers with professional or academic training are entitled to a residence permit, provided all requirements are met.

“Those with completed professional qualifications or higher education can engage in any qualified employment within the non-regulated sector, and the connection between training and employment is no longer mandatory,” the embassy said.

David Klebs, the embassy’s economic counselor, said Germany is attractive for skilled workers because of its excellent working and living conditions, equal pay, full health insurance, and legal access to permanent residence and citizenship.

Klebs also emphasized the family-friendly policies, joint government and company-run programs, and the positive impact on the Filipino workforce in terms of remittances, work experiences, and skills development.

“Germany is welcoming skilled workers with open arms and full support,” he said.

Greece’s conservative government, meanwhile, pushed through a controversial law offering limited legal status to migrant workers, overriding the opposition of several of its own lawmakers including a former prime minister.

Some 30,000 migrants are expected to benefit, mainly from Albania, Georgia and the Philippines, according to the migration ministry, addressing serious labor shortages in the farm sector.

Migration Minister Dimitris Kairidis has said the legalization move is purely labor-related. It is aimed at those who arrived in Greece before 2021 and have been working illegally.

The temporary legal status will only be valid for a one-off three-year period and applies to those already with job offers from employers.

Repatriated OFWs

Also on Wednesday, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said it is exerting all legal efforts to repatriate the 96 overseas Filipino workers in Israel due to difficulty in finding flights for them during the holiday season.

DMW Assistant Secretary Felicitas Bay said there are still 96 OFWs in Israel who have expressed a desire to be repatriated, but the department is having difficulty in finding flights back to the Philippines. “We have the funds to get the tickets but the flight is very difficult to get now. The airlines are fully booked. But we’ll try our best before the end of the year,” she said.

The DMW said a total of 413 OFWs from Israel have already arrived in the country after another 37 OFWs from war-torn Israel landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Tuesday evening.

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