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Freed Filipino seafarers Hijacked by Somali Pirates To Return Home

More than the ordeals they suffered and experienced from the hands of their Somali oppressors who hijacked their vessel four years ago, the five (5) Filipino crew onboard MV Nahan 3 will return to the Philippines to be reunited with their loved ones. .


The distressed sea-based workers are scheduled to be home tomorrow, Friday, 28 October via Emirates EK 332, at 4:30 in the afternoon. The group will be welcomed  and be given assistance by the officials and representatives of the government headed by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). The families of the repatriated workers will likewise be at the airport to meet them.


According to OWWA Officer-in-Charge Carmelina F. Velasquez, the 5 Filipino crew, namely; Arnel Pregillana Balbero, Elmer Salvador Balbero, Ferdinand Jacinto Dalit, Akes Tininggal Edwas Jr., and Antonio Auxtero Libres Jr., will be accorded assistance by the OWWA Repatriation Team upon arrival at the airport, going through  documentation process at the Immigration and Customs, and  shall provide accommodation.  


Aside from airport assistance and accommodation, OWWA’s support to the repatriated Filipino seafarers will include the provision of transportation fares to their respective hometowns where they will also be recommended to undergo psycho-social counseling as part of their ‘healing process’.


“We imagine the nightmare that our  ‘kababayans’  went through all those times, so much so that we wish that they, together with their families, will be able to adjust and be back to their normal lives. We are thankful that they at last, are able to come home safely,” OIC Velasquez said.  


OIC Velasquez added that the advise on the arrival of the Filipino seamen came from the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs’ (OUMWA) Officer-in-Charge  Reynaldo A. Catapang. The release of the 26-man crew, explained Velasquez, was through the auspices of Oceans Beyond Piracy, a project of One Earth Foundation, which spearheaded the negotiation.


The crew was received by Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Jesus I. Yabes, along with Philippine Embassy in Nairobi Charge d’ Affaires Uriel R. Galibay and other DFA officials at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Negotiations for the release of the seafarers started immediately after their captivity in 2012.


News surrounding the release of the hostages stated that the five Filipinos were among the 29-man crew victimized by the Somali pirates when their vessel was seized on March 26, 2012, while passing through the Indian Ocean. Aside from the Filipinos, other victims of the unfortunate incident included Cambodian, Chinese, Indonesian,Taiwanese and Viatnamese nationalities.

Advisory on OWWA Cash Assistance for OFWs affected by Super Typhoon Lawin

Advisory on OWWA Cash Assistance for OFWs affected by Super Typhoon Lawin









OWWA Officer-in-Charge Carmelina F. Velasquez said that starting today,   


Friday, 28 October 2016, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be accepting application on the agency’s Financial Assistance to affected OWWA Member-OFW Families in areas hardest hit by typhoon ‘Lawin’.


Claimants for the said one-time monetary aid are OWWA members/and their families in the  areas devastated by typhoon Signal number  5, as declared by  the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC), namely: CAGAYAN, ISABELA, KALINGA, APAYAO, NORTHERN ABRA , and ILOCOS NORTE


Entitled  to  receive the  financial assistance  are the following:    

Active OWWA members per member/family     P3,000.00 

Non-active  OWWA member/family                   P1,500.00


OFWs qualified to the said  aid   are advised to immediately  get in touch with the following OWWA Regional Welfare Offices (RWOs)  for the requirements/details:

RWO 1                                     -                        09088634250/09276207300

RWO 11                                    -                       09189653746/09175047915

RWO CAR                                -                        09999949296/09175001294


A big group of distressed OFWs stranded in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia returned to the Philippines today, Tuesday, 25 October 2016 at 1:30 in the afternoon, onboard Saudia Airlines flight SV 872.  


OWWA Officer-in-Charge Carmelina F. Velasquez, along with other government officials, welcomed the repatriated OFWs. Likewise, the government representatives oriented the distressed OFWs on the programs and services  available to them. Upon assumption to office in August, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a marching order to immediately heed the call for help of the OFWs. Thus, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello lll went to an official mission in Riyadh and created a composite team that was dispatched to Saudi Arabia in order to assess the condition of the Filipino migrant workers, ascertain their needs, craft mechanisms to address these needs, including the OFWs’ option for repatriation.


As part of the government’s commitment to bring home the OFWs, a total of 2,031 OFWs have so far returned to the country. The figure covers the period from July 2016 to October 24, 2016.  


Meanwhile, as of 21 October 2016, OWWA has extended Relief Assistance Program (RAP) to 18,255 stranded OFWs disbursing a total of P400,804,031.06. These  OFWs include those who are still at worksites in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and those who had been repatriated. In relation to this, RAP was also provided to 10,846 families with a total sum of P68,516,000.00. Total cost for the financial aid from the last week of July 2016 up to 21 October 2016 was placed at a total of P469,320,031.06.


The OWWA Augmentation Team sent to KSA assisted in the processing of RAP applications, and distributed food and hygiene kits to 13,245 OFW availees which amounted to P2,310,295,82. Meanwhile, an Augmentation Team comprising of OWWA personnel will be sent to Saudi Arabia today as the previous team has already reported back.   


At the home front, post- repatriation service expenses covering land transportation, food and toiletries to OFWs accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home reached a total of P1,541,553.95 which covers the period July 2016-October 21, 2016.


One hundred seventy-three (173) OFWs from Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, employed by Saudi Oger, one of the companies which suffered financial setback as a result of the dip in the price of oil in the world market, are set to return at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon today, Monday, 17 October 2016, via Saudia Airlines flight SV 870.


Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello lll, will welcome the repatriated OFWs  and accord necessary assistance to them. Yesterday, Sunday, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac led the agency personnel in extending assistance to 83 distressed OFWs, also from Saudi Oger.  


Aside from airport assistance, the OFWs will also be offered temporary stay at the OWWA Halfway Home, transportation fare onward to their respective provinces, stress debriefing, among others.


“The OWWA Repatriation and Assistance Division (RAD), as well as the OWWA 24/7 Operations Center are in full alert in anticipation of the Filipino migrant workers’ schedules of arrivals. Flight advisories are sent to OWWA via email or at times thru text messaging, after final arrangements with airlines and completion of travel documents for OFWs are undertaken by the Philippine Embassy, in coordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO),” OWWA Administrator Cacdac explains.    


Aside from the post-arrival services, returning OFWs who have not yet availed of OWWA’s Relief Assistance Program (RAP) are given immediate attention to process their claim before they return to their provinces/residences.


Relief Assistance Program (RAP)


As of 14 October 2016, OWWA has extended Relief Assistance Program (RAP) to 18,156 stranded OFWs disbursing a total of P398,476,031.06. These OFWs include those who are still at worksites in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and those who had been repatriated. In relation to this, RAP was also provided to 10,750 families with a total sum of P67,940,000.00. Total cost for the financial aid from the last week of July 2016 up to 14 October  2016 was placed at a total of P466,416,031.06.


The OWWA Augmentation Team sent to KSA assisted in the processing of RAP applications, and distributed food and hygiene kits to 13,245 OFW availees which amounted to P2,310,295,82.


At the home front, post repatriation service expenses covering land transportation, and food and toiletries to OFWs accommodated at the OWWA Halfway Home reached the total of P866,725.97.

OWWA Assisted Family of Deceased Alleged OFW Rape Victim

Labor Undersecretary Ciriaco A. Lagunzad lll, and OWWA Administrator Hans Leo J. Cacdac headed the OWWA Repatriation Team in extending assistance to the bereaved  family of the overseas Filipino worker (OFW), Irma A. Edloy, an alleged victim of rape and maltreatment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. OFW Edloy was visited by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello lll in her hospital bed when he was on official visit to KSA last August 2016.  


The remains of OFW Edloy arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last Sunday, 02 October 2016. The OWWA Team accompanied the family to its residence in Quezon City. Present too was a representative of OWWA during the conduct of the  autopsy.


The 38-year-old OFW started working in Saudi Arabia in July this year as household service worker (HSW). She was an active OWWA member at the time of her death.


OFW Edloy’s family received from no less than Labor Secretary Bello the amount of P120,000.00 representing death and burial benefits early in September.    


Aside from insurance and death benefits, spouse of OFW Edloy is entitled to receive P15,000.00  under the agency’s Expanded Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP). Likewise, one child/beneficiary of the deceased OFW  is also eligible to avail of  scholarship assistance in form of  allowance of P5,000.00/year for elementary; P8,000.00/year  for high school student; and P10,000.00/year  for collegiate level. The beneficiary will continue to receive the  educational assistance until  the child  finishes his/her studies.


"We are very sad to see  an  OFW who comes home in a coffin. More than the financial benefits and livelihood assistance OWWA extends to the bereaved family, we are hopeful that they can feel our sincere condolences, and we hope that one way or the other, they are able to cope with the unfortunate incident,” OWWA Administrator Cacdac said.

Former POEA Admin, Now Heads OWWA

Hans Leo J. Cacdac, former Administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) is  the new Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).


Speaking during the Monday morning flag raising ceremony before OWWA officials and employees, the newly-installed OWWA Administrator has been part of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) family, and sits as one of the members of the agency’s Board of Trustees. 


Before entering public service, Administrator Cacdac  worked as a lawyer for 7 years at the Sentro ng Alternatibong LIngap Panligal (SALIGAN) or the Alternative Legal Assistance Center-with a group of advocates doing developmental legal work with women, farmers, workers, the urban poor, indigenous people as well as the local communities in the Philippines. 


His stint as public servant started  in 2001-2005 as Director of the DOLE Bureau of Labor Relations; Executive Director of the DOLE-National Conciliation and Mediation Board (NCMB) from 2005-2006; Deputy Administrator of POEA from 2006-2010; Undersecretary for Labor Relations of DOLE from 2010-2011; and finally returned to POEA as its Administrator in 2012.


As former POEA Administrator, he is into negotiating for partnership cooperation agreements and bilateral labor agreements; representing the country in the drafting of the ASEAN regional instrument for the protection of the migrant workers; and providing talks on various subjects in maritime regulations, overseas employment, migration and development, as well as in regional integration.


“Being part of the DOLE family, OWWA and POEA are intertwined. As such, I am not new to the 24/7 round-the-clock service of OWWA to OFWs. I have seen your dedication and worked with your team, specially those assigned at the airport. Crisis or no crisis, OWWA is always present to give assistance to OFWs and their families,” OWWA Chief Cacdac said.


Administrator Cacdac is very familiar with the rudiments and rigors of the job associated with welfare cases since he oftentimes been with the OWWA Repatriation Team in extending assistance to distressed OFWs that include  OFWs repatriated from Syria, Yemen, Libya, as well as the current workers stranded in Riyadh, Jeddah and Al Khobar, employed by Saudi Oger, MGM and other financially-strapped companies in Saudi Arabia.


He was with DOLE Undersecretary Ciriaco Lagunzad to condole and assist  the family of alleged OFW rape victim Irma A. Edloy. OFW’s Edloy body arrived at the NAIA cargo last Sunday. Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello visited OFW Edloy in her hospital bed in August this year.   


Administrator Cacdac added that OFWs have soft spot in his heart since his late father, Napoleon Cacdac, a radio technician for the Voice of America, and the Eternal Word Television Network, was also an OFW. The 48-year-old OWWA Administrator, the youngest so far to head the agency, is married to Ruby Alvarez a native of Davao City. The couple is blessed with a five-year-old daughter, Lourdes Severene.

OWWA and DTI Join forces for Reintegration

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Rebecca J. Calzado and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Undersecretary Zenaida C. Maglaya signed today, 06 September 2016, the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in implementing joint projects for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families who intend to pursue entrepreneurial undertakings.


The MOU formalizes the partnership of OWWA and DTI to jointly conduct developmental trainings under OWWA’s Enhanced Entrepreneurial Development Training (EEDT) and other related activities.  This partnership is aligned with the 8-point Labor and Employment Agenda of the Department of Labor and Employment to bring more focus and accessibility in workers protection and welfare programs.


EEDT is the business development intervention of OWWA for OFWs who intend to venture into micro, small and medium enterprises. It includes business planning and project-specific skills orientation to equip OFWs with the necessary knowledge and skills in pursuing their intended business.


Through DTI’s assistance, OFWs will have access to training and technical support in starting an enterprise, as well as opportunities to attend special events such as conferences, exhibitions, symposia, caravans, and other promotional activities initiated by DTI and the private sector.


OFWs who complete the EEDT may avail of the loan amounting to Php100,000.00 up to 2Million pesos under the OFW-Enterprise Development and Loan Program (OFW-EDLP) in partnership with LandBank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.


“OFW-EDLP is part of OWWA’s commitment to continually develop and implement welfare programs that respond to the needs of OFWs and their families.  With this partnership, an OFW’s dream of owning his/her own enterprise is just a step away” Administrator Calzado said.

Repatriation of 128 OFWs from KSA

Repatriation of 128 OFWs from KSA










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