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Sunday, May 15, 2016



Senator Sonny Angara has hailed the signing into law of a bill that institutionalizes and strengthens the government's support to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families by introducing reforms to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).


Senator Sonny Angara has hailed the signing into law of a bill that institutionalizes and strengthens the government's support to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families by introducing reforms to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

"Nagpapasalamat po ako sa ating Pangulong Aquino at sa ating mga kasamahan sa Senado at Kongreso sa pagpasa ng batas na ito na naglalayong palakasin ang mandato ng OWWA upang mas matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng ating mga dakilang OFW at ang kanilang mga pamilya," said Angara, acting chairman of the Senate labor committee and sponsor and one of the authors of the new OWWA law.

Under Republic Act 10801, OWWA is declared as a national government agency and an attached agency of the Department of Labor and Employment, and would now receive government funding instead of relying solely from the contributions of its OFW members.
The recently enacted law also mandates greater representation of OFWs in the OWWA Board of Trustees by increasing the number of representatives from the OFW sector from the present three to five (two from land-based OFWs, two from sea-based OFWs and one from the women sector) while representatives from the government will be reduced from seven to six.
"As the principal agency of the government that serves and promotes the rights, interest and welfare of OFWs and their families, the composition of the OWWA Board of Trustees must be reformed to really represent the OFW sector. Sa ilalim ng batas na ito, higit nang mabibigyan ng boses ang ating 2.4 milyong OFWs sa kung saan mapupunta ang pondo ng OWWA at sa kung anong programa at serbisyo ang dapat bigyang prayoridad at lalo pang paigtingin," Angara said.
RA 10801 further boosts the government's capacity to assist migrant workers who lost their jobs by making the reintegration of OFWs one of the core programs of OWWA, which will be funded with not less than 10 percent of the total collection every year.

The reintegration program includes granting of loans and other financial support, trainings on financial literacy, entrepreneurial development, techno-skills, business counseling as well as job referrals for both local and overseas employment.

WHAT ARE YOUR OWWA Benefits And How To Avail Them?

The new law also seeks to ensure transparency in the utilization and management of the OWWA funds, and mandates the OWWA to maintain an interactive website to collect OFW feedback, comments, suggestions and complaints on existing programs and services.
"Gaano man kalayo ang mga OFW sa ating bansa, nais nating iparamdam sa kanila, sa pamamagitan ng batas na ito, na mayroon tayong gobyerno na nakikinig at agad tumutugon sa kanilang mga hinaing at problema. We should better equip and strengthen the OWWA so it can truly fulfill its special duty of developing and implementing welfare programs and services that respond to the needs of its member-OFWs and their families," Angara said.


SEC. 34. Guiding Principles. – Pursuant to its mandate, the OWWA shall provide gender-responsive reintegration programs, repatriation assistance, loan and credit assistance, on-site workers assistance, death and disability benefits, health care benefits, education and skills training, social services, family welfare assistance, programs and services for women migrant workers and other appropriate programs that provide timely social and economic services.
Nothing in this Act shall be construed as a limitation or denial of the right of an OFW to avail of any benefit plan which may be adopted in the employment contract, or offered voluntarily by employers, or by the laws of the receiving country, over and above those provided under this Act.
SEC. 35. Benefits and Services to OFWs. –
(a) Reintegration of OFWs.  The reintegration of OFWs, taking into consideration the needs of women migrant workers, shall be one of the core programs of the OWWA. In this regard, and for purposes of policy and program coordination, the National Reintegration Center for OFWs created under Republic Act No. 10022 shall be an attached office of the OWWA. It shall be headed by an Executive Director who shall be under the supervision of the OWWA Administrator.
To be able to sustain the viability of this program, not less than ten percent (10%) of OWWA’s collection of contribution for the immediately preceding year shall be allocated annually for the reintegration program,
(b) Repatriation Assistance. – Consistent with the provisions of Republic Act No. 8042, as amended, the OWWA shall assist the Department of Foreign Affairs in providing OFWs with services necessary to facilitate repatriation, as may be required.
(c) Loan and Other Credit Assistance. – The OWWA shall provide low-interest loans to member-OFWs. It shall have the authority to hire experts in finance or banking to assist in implementing the said loan programs.
(d) Workers Assistance and On-site Services. – The OWWA shall sustain and maintain assistance to member-OFWs in all its overseas and regional offices. Services shall be gender-responsive and shall include information regarding the names, occupation/job categories and addresses of the member-OFWs; legal assistance providing guidance and information on protection of migrant rights, including the prevention of gender-based violence; developing materials for the predeparture orientation seminars; conducting psycho-social counseling services; conciliation services; appropriate services and intervention for victims of gender-based violence, and outreach missions, among others. The OWWA shall likewise make competent representations with employers, agents, and host government authorities to assist member-OFWs in obtaining relief from grievances and work-related issues, including claims for unpaid wages, and illegal recruitment cases among others.
(e) Social Benefits. – A member-OFW shall be covered with the following social benefits:
(1) Death and Disability Benefits:
(i) Death Benefits. – A member shall be covered with life insurance for the duration of his or her employment contract. The coverage shall include one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00) for natural death and two hundred thousand pesos (P200,000.00) for accidental death;
(ii) Disability and Dismemberment Benefits. – Disability and dismemberment benefits shall be included in a member’s life insurance policy, as provided for in the impediment schedule contained in the OWWA Manual of Systems and Procedures. The coverage is within the range of two thousand pesos (P2,000.00) to fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00);
(iii) Total Disability Benefit. – In case of total permanent disability, a member shall be entitled to one hundred thousand pesos (P100,000.00); and
(iv) Burial Benefit. – A burial benefit of twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) shall be provided in case of the member’s death.
Based on actuarial studies, the Board may increase the amount of the abovementioned benefits.
(2) Health Care Benefits. – Within two (2) years from the effectivity of this Act, the OWWA shall develop and implement health care programs for the benefit of member-OFWs and their families, taking into consideration the health care needs of women as provided for in Republic Act No. 9710, or the Magna Carta of Women, and other relevant laws.
(3) Education and Training Benefits. – A member, or the member’s designated beneficiary, may avail any of the following scholarship programs, subject to a selection process and accreditation of participating institutions:
(i) Skills-for-Employment Scholarship Program. – For technical or vocational training scholarship;
(ii) Education for Development Scholarship Program. – For baccalaureate programs; and
(iii) Seafarers’ Upgrading Program. – To ensure the competitive advantage of Filipino seafarers in meeting competency standards, as required by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions, treaties and agreements, sea-based members shall be entitled to one upgrading program for every three (3) membership contributions.
The annual scholarship lists of all these programs shall be submitted to the Board.
SEC. 36. New Programs, Interactive Website and Extension of Services. – The OWWA shall continue to develop and implement new programs to meet new OFW needs and requirements as they arise, and to assess the effectiveness of existing services and benefits in serving the welfare of OFWs.
The OWWA shall also maintain an interactive website to collect OFW feedbacks, comments, suggestions, and complaints on existing programs and services.
The OWWA may also extend appropriate programs or services to non-members, as may be determined by the Board.


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