Press Release
March 31, 2011

Legarda: Information on Gov't Programs and Services, Key to Help
OFWs in Crisis Situations

Senator Loren Legarda today said that keeping overseas Filipinos informed of the government's programs and services they can avail will help them better plan their future and assess their options so as not to be caught off guard when crisis in their host nations erupts.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations stressed that several programs of various government agencies can provide a wide range of opportunities for repatriated Filipinos if only they are aware that these programs exist.

Legarda cited that OFWs can avail of loans from the Small Business Corporation (SBC) to start up their own enterprise.

"Thousands of Filipinos who were repatriated due to the political tension in their host countries were abruptly displaced. Our government agencies say that they have given assistance to our OFWs and that they have programs for re-deployment, retraining or upgrading of skills, and entrepreneurship. These opportunities can be maximized with the proper coordination among various agencies," she stressed.

Legarda said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has been providing Php10,000 assistance to overseas Filipinos who returned from Libya, and the SBC can grant loans to OFWs who have the necessary requirements.

"If the two agencies had worked together, these OFWs could have gained better options on what they can do with the financial assistance given to them."

Legarda cited that the implementation of Republic Act 9501, or the Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Act, which she principally sponsored and authored, would help in the reintegration of repatriated Filipinos.

Legarda explained, "The law provides assistance to MSMEs by requiring lending institutions to allocate at least eight percent (8%) of their total loan portfolio to micro and small businesses. It also provides access to new technologies and regular entrepreneurship training programs for workers as well as a comprehensive development plan that would ensure the viability and growth of MSMEs in the country."

"We have many good laws, policies and programs in place, but are the people aware of or are able to access these programs? Coordination and convergence among government departments is important to ensure that we maximize the benefits of these programs for our people," she said.

"In this case of the repatriated OFWs, the OWWA, POEA, TESDA and SBC must closely coordinate so that they can provide the best options for our citizens. These programs should actually be made known to our OFWs even before they leave the country to work abroad so that they can plan ahead and make good use of their money through good investments. We have to bring the government closer to the people, and we can only do that if our citizens are aware of what the government is actually doing for them," Legarda concluded.

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