MANILA (Mabuhay) – As Hong Kong’s policy to scrap visa-free travel privileges for Philippine diplomatic and official passport holders took effect Wednesday, the Department of Labor and Employment assured overseas Filipino workers there of government protection.
DOLE Secretary Rosalinda said that while OFWs are not affected by this particular policy, her office is ready to help them look for jobs elsewhere or return home for good.
“We have tailor-fit programs for returning OFWs, OFWs in distress, and even OFWs who, while in their work destinations, would like to engage in alternative livelihood for better income opportunities,” she said.
She said these programs include repatriation and welfare assistance, skills training and re-training, scholarships for OFWs and their dependents, psycho-social counseling, and livelihood and entrepreneurship.
Also, she said the DOLE continues to intensify its Balik-Pinay-Balik Hanap-buhay Program that provides livelihood starter kits for small, home-based businesses.
The DOLE also has a P2-billion National Reintegration Loan program that aims to support OFWs and their families who plan to put up businesses.
Managed by the Land Bank of the Philippines, the loan program has an annual rate of 7.5 percent in declining balance with a flexible payment scheme of up to five years and an incentive grace period of two years.
Under the program, a borrower can borrow between P200,000 and P2 million.
But for now, Baldoz advised the OFWs to maintain their commitment and dedication to work, as well as good ties with their employers while following Hong Kong’s rules and regulations. (MNS)