Mayor Evelio Leonardia recently met with the officials of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to discuss programs that will benefit Bacolodnon overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families who are adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some of the OWWA programs which were discussed by Leonardia, OWWA Deputy Administrators Esther Margaux “Mocha” Uson and Faustino “Bubsie” Sabarez III, and OIC-Region 6 director Rizza Joy Moldes include “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay,” “Balik Pinay, Balik Hanapbuhay,” “Tabang” (for distressed college students), and “Project Alalay.”
The meeting also tackled the guidelines on adopting the “Tulong Pangkabuhayan para sa Pag-unlad ng Samahang OFWs” or the “Tulong Puso” Program of OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
“This meeting with OWWA officials is very timely. Many of our Bacolodnon OFWs are back home. They have been displaced and they need help badly. The city government is ready to assist them to avail of these grants from the OWWA and the DOLE, DTI and other national government agencies concerned,” the mayor said.
There are around 10 to 11 million OFWs nationwide and abroad, and over 40,000 of them are from Bacolod City.
DOLE and OWWA launched the “Tulong Puso” Program to support the formation, enhancement, and restoration of livelihood ventures of accredited associations of OFWs.
Under the “Tulong Puso,” a one-time grant assistance in the form of raw materials, equipment, tools and jigs, and other support services shall be given to OFW organizations to help them start a business and cope with the effects of their displacement due to the pandemic.
The amount of grant shall be based on the project requirement of up to a maximum of P1 million for OFW organizations with more than 51 members. The cash grant starts at a minimum of P150,000.
DOLE and OWWA are also prepared to provide the necessary training and social preparations intervention to ensure the success of the OFW groups’ chosen enterprise, which shall be done in collaboration with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Agriculture (DA).
To be eligible, the OFW group must be duly registered – either as a workers’ association with the DOLE, or as a corporation with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or as a cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
At least 80 percent of the OFW group members must be considered as OWWA members.
The remaining 20 percent may be comprised of undocumented or irregular OFWs and/or their families.
Any interested DOLE-, CDA-, or SEC-registered OFW groups may submit their project proposal together with the required documents at any of the 17 OWWA Regional Welfare Offices in the country for evaluation.
But those who have been previously awarded the “Tulong Puso” grant pursuant to Memorandum of Instructions 006, series of 2018 shall no longer be qualified to avail of this program./WDJ