Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) are essentially Filipino foreign workers who labor outside the Philippines and live in a foreign country for an indeterminate or limited period of time. They are cogwheels in the Philippine economy and play significant roles in the country’s development. Their importance cannot be overstated, with their contributions helping support families, being instrumental in creating jobs, promoting diplomacy, transferring skills and knowledge, and stimulating economic growth.
On February 23, 2023, the practically new Department of Migrant Workers (DMW), its very creation inspired by the Global Police Community Relations (GPCR), now Global Peace Relations of the Philippine National Police, joins forces with no less than the Philippine National Police (PNP) and other government agencies and private groups to support and safeguard OFWs and ensure their safety. Among these organizations are the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and its attached agencies, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Public Employment Service Office (PESO), as well as the United Filipino Global (UFG), a non-government, non-profit organization. A one-day activity for Filipino migrant workers, aptly dubbed “Serbisyo para sa OFW” was held at the PNP Multi-Purpose Center, Camp BGen Rafael T Crame in Quezon City.
This was graced by Police Lieutenant General Rhodel O. Sermonia, the Deputy Chief PNP for Administration, Police Major General Mario A. Reyes, Director of Directorate for Police Community Relations, Police Major General Jon A. Arnaldo, the Director for the Directorate for Human Resource and Doctrine Development, Police Colonel Lou F. Evangelista, the Acting Director of the Police Community Affairs Development Group and PCADG’s Command Group; with Ms. Gemma Sotto, Founding Chairman and President of UFG, Atty. Patricia Caunan, Usec for Policy and International Cooperation, DMW; Mr. Arnel Ignacio, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator, ASec Venecio Legaspi of the DMW, representatives from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and Public Employment Service Office (PESO).
In her message, Ms. Sotto extended her gratitude to the entire PNP organization led by its Chief PNP General Rodolfo S. Azurin, Jr., for their unwavering support through its programs. Azurin, Jr, represented by PLTGen. Rhodel O Sermonia, who laid down said programs which will undoubtedly benefit a vast number of OFWs worldwide.
Atty. Caunan, on the other hand, underscored the significance of the Job Fair held at the Bulwagang Lapu-Lapu in Camp BGen. Rafael T. Crame. The Job Fair, a continuing program of UFG will eradicate the possibility of OFWs becoming victims of illegal recruiters.
Mr. Arnel Ignacio conveyed his enthusiasm as well, emphasizing that the program will not merely benefit OFWs but will also strengthen collaborations among the agencies and stakeholders who were present.
In his message, Police Lieutenant General Rhodel O Sermonia conveyed that the entire organization led by PNP Chief, Rodolfo Azurin Jr, acknowledges the tireless efforts of our brave Modern-day Heroes who have sacrificed so much to make a better life for themselves and their families. He also added, that PNP recognizes the need to provide protection and assistance to our OFWs, especially in times of crisis, and to their families left behind in the home country.
The PNP Combo and PNP Fitness Team rendered special performances that gave delight and excitement to the participants and audiences.
More or less 300 OFWs from the National Capital Region (NCR) benefitted from the government services offered during the whole-day event. The following frontline services offered were: E-registration / Legal Assistance / Registration Servives from DMW; presentation of services from OWWA; E-Sumbong under PNP – PCADG (CRMC); Legal Consultation (PNP Legal Service); Medical consultation and Psychological support (PNP HS); Cybercrime Investigation (PNP ACG); Motor Vehicle Clearance (PNP HPG): International Help Desk (PNP OF HELP)(PNP DI); National Police Clearance (PNP DIDM); LTOFP (PNP CSG (FEO)); Women and Children Concerned Desk – (PNP WCPC); Referral and Placement (PESO); and assessment of applicant by recruitment agencies.
PNP has also strengthened its partnership with other government agencies that work closely with the Department of Migrant Workers, particularly with OWWA, to provide assistance and protection to OFWs. PNP and OWWA collaborate on various initiatives, such as the Joint OWWA-PNP Anti-Trafficking Operations to prevent human trafficking and protect vulnerable OFWs. PNP works with the PESO to provide employment services to OFWs. PNP and PESO collaborated to provide training and orientation programs to OFWs before their departure for their host countries, to ensure that they are aware of the laws and customs of their host countries, and to properly prepare them for their jobs. PNP collaborates with the United Filipino Global (UFG) to provide support and assistance to OFWs, especially through PNP’s International Help Desk in all the offices of the Police Attachés worldwide. PNP works with UFG to provide training and orientation programs to OFWs and to assist in the repatriation of distressed OFWs.
The PNP International Help Desk for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) is a crucial initiative aimed at providing support and assistance to Filipinos working abroad. A 24/7 hotline is open to all, especially to OFWs, and provides access to police services and assistance to Filipinos working abroad. The Help Desk is manned by PNP personnel led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Edwin C. Ellazar and Police Major Marites A. Velilia. These personnel are trained to handle various issues, including legal and security concerns, financial and health-related matters, and even psychological support.
One of the primary benefits of the PNP International Help Desk is to provide real-time assistance to OFWs who may need immediate assistance because of facing difficult situations, such as being victimized by illegal recruiters or abusive employers. With the Help Desk, OFWs can easily report issues they encounter and receive immediate assistance from PNP or through PNP, connecting them to right agency or office. Another essential aspect of the PNP international Help Desk is prevention. The program educates OFWs on potential risks and provide them with relevant information and resources to help them avoid dangerous situations. This proactive approach helps them in preventing problems before they occur, particularly, on OFWs vulnerability in foreign countries.
Moreover, the PNP International Help Desk for OFWs also serves as Help Desk are valuable sources of information for Filipinos.
With PNP’s commitment to support OFWs, Filipinos can feel more secure knowing that help is just a phone call away.
Meanwhile, on a separate event held on the 15th of March 2023, thousands of Caviteños and nearby populace flocked at the SM City Rosario Events Place, Tejeros Convention in Rosario, Cavite, to take their chances in landing a job in one of the thousand overseas job opportunities offered during the 1Libong Trabaho Abroad Serbisyo Para sa OFW & Mega Job Fair initiated by the United Filipino Global in a continuing collaboration and active partnership with DMW, OWWA, PESO, PNP and the 1st District of Cavite.
PLTGen Rhodel O. Sermonia personally attended the massive job fair, together with 1st District of Cavite Representative, Hon. Ramon Jolo B. Revilla III who, coincidentally, was celebrating his birthday; DMW ASec for Reintegration, Mr. Venecio Legaspi; DMW ASec for Pre-Employment Services, Mr. Levinson A. Alcantara; OWWA Provincial Supervisor, Mr. Eric Val T. Miranda; and Ms. Gemma Sotto, the Founding Chairman and President of UFG, were there to lend valuable support.
Also present during the activity were the personnel of the Cavite Police Provincial Office led by Police Lieutenant Colonel Jesson V. Bombasi, the Deputy Provincial Director for Operations; and personnel of the Rosario Municipal Police Station under the leadership of Police Brigadier General Jose Melencio C. Nartanez, Jr., Regional Director of Police Regional Office 4A (PRO 4A) where the 1st District of Cavite is under its jurisdiction.
With persistence and grit, some of the applicants even went to the venue as early as midnight prior to the day of activity, hoping that an opportunity for a better tomorrow may finally come their way.
The partnership that was forged through the common goal of PNP, National Government Agencies (NGAs), Local Government Units (LGUs), Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and partner stakeholders in uplifting Filipino lives by providing them with the greater opportunity for welfare and employment, was, very much felt, what with PNP making good on its KASIMBAYANAN program. The religious sector represented, with its members leading an air of equanimity and sobriety.
Philippine National Police recognizes the immense sacrifice and importance of our OFWs in the development of our country. They are in a sense, the backbones of our economy. Despite the many challenges they face, our OFWs remain resilient and determined. They embody the Filipino spirit of resilience, perseverance, and dedication. Let us all do our part to support them in any way we can. We owe it to them to show our appreciation and to help make their lives a little easier, because, indeed, “life is beautiful.” Together, let us celebrate the very definition of our Overseas Filipino Workers.