DOLE strengthens assistance program for Sabah deportees PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 21 April 2013 14:22

Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz reiterated her instruction to the DOLE Regional Coordinating Committee in Zamboanga Peninsula to beef up its efforts in providing the necessary assistance to Filipino deportees from Sabah, as another batch of 115 workers have returned to the country aboard M/V Mideast Express last April 10.

The DOLE Regional Coordinating Committee responds to the various needs of the deportees through the One-Stop Shop Processing Center (OSSPC).

Citing the update report from the OWWA Regional Office in Zamboanga City, Baldoz said the deportees all served jail sentence for lack of proper documents. Of the number, 111 are male adults, 41 female adults, two male children, and one female child.

The report said these numbers are on top of the recently reported total number of deportees, 897 workers, who came from all over Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia through regular commercial vessels. The transportation expenses of the deportees were shouldered by the Malaysian Government.

“We already have a template on how to deal with the arrival of deportees; and we are consistently strengthening it for those who may decide to return to the country either for good or to wait for the situation to stabilize before returning to Sabah,” Baldoz said.

The OSSPC provides various services to the deportees, including transient stay, passport services, National Statistics Office (NSO) birth certificate issuance, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) clearance issuance, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) training, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) processing of Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) membership, reintegration services such as livelihood, capacity building, and entrepreneurship skills, and referral for local employment.

The OSSPC gave way to the establishment of the Provincial Crisis Management Committee (PCMC) tasked to assist the heavier workload of OWWA and local government authorities in documenting returnees and determining what appropriate services could be provided to them.

The PMPC, complementing the OSSPC, is created to immediately respond in case there will be an influx of deportees resulting from the recent LahadDatu standoff in Sabah.

According to PMPC Chair Governor SadikuSahali, six evacuation centers in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi have been prepared by the Provincial Crisis Management Council (PCMC) for returning Muslim Filipinos from Malaysia.

These evacuation centers are in the following: (1) Mahardika Institute of Technology (MIT); (2) Tubig Tanah Elementary School; (3) Tawi-Tawi School of Arts and Trade; (4) Housing Project Elementary School; (5) PanglimaAnnao Elementary School; and (6) Pahut Elementary School.

The MIT evacuation center served as temporary shelter for the current batch of 115 deportees.

“We are ready facilitating the return of the deportees,” Baldoz said.

“Our reintegration programs are in place. However, we work in convergence with other national agencies and local government authorities,” she added, commending the efforts of the Department of Social Welfare and Development—the DOLE partner that profiles the deportees, provides food, accommodation, transportation, and other humanitarian, and support services.