Vice President Jejomar C. Binay today asked the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to set up a processing center in Tawi-Tawi where Filipinos from Sabah, among them Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), are expected to arrive.
The DOLE had said it will open a processing center in Zamboanga City, but the Vice President said it would be better for the department to open one in Tawi-Tawi.
“I think it’s better if we bring our services directly to where the OFWs are, rather than have them travel all the way to Zamboanga,” he said.
“Although we are hoping it won’t happen, government should be prepared for any contingency. There are some 800,000 Filipinos in Sabah, and we have to be ready to assist them when needed,” he said.
Binay, the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, earlier wrote Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz suggesting that the department put up processing centers to assist returning workers in case of a mass exodus of OFWs due to continuing tensions in Sabah.
“Your office might want to consider providing job placement, re-integration, and welfare assistance services in these centers for documented workers who are members of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA),” he wrote Baldoz.
The Vice President also added that DOLE might consider taking the opportunity to encourage undocumented OFWs to enlist with OWWA or to provide them with alternative or livelihood opportunities.
“I know you share with me my concern over the impact of the situation in Sabah on the economic security of our OFWs and their families. Our kababayans need to be reassured that their government has their best interest in mind, particularly in this time of crisis,” he concluded.
The Vice President earlier appealed to Malaysia to facilitate the entry of humanitarian ships to provide aid to Filipinos caught in the conflict.#