Domestic workers gathered in Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Domestic workers gathered in Central, Hong Kong Island. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Filipino migrant workers whose jobs were terminated or who were mistreated by their employers can now apply for PHP20,000 (US$380) in livelihood aid from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration on their return home.

According to Labor Attache Jalilo dela Torre, terminated workers who go home for good are endorsed to OWWA offices in the workers’ regions, reported.

The intent of the program is to help distressed domestic workers, primarily wards of government shelters who have cases against their employers, those terminated for medical reasons or were laid off due to their employers’ financial difficulties.

The cash assistance comes with development training to provide the recipients with basic skills in doing the livelihood project of their choice.

However, it appears there had not been a lot of takers in the eight years since the program had been in existence because the OWWA is said to be meticulous in evaluating the returning worker’s proposed projects so the financial aid does not go to waste.

Only 260 Filipino overseas workers had received the benefit as of September this year, figures from the Department of Labor and Employment showed. The aid was launched in 2010 in the form of starter kits worth PHP10,000 and doubled to PHP20,000 in 2016.

But welfare attaché Marivic Clarin admitted that the success rate among aid recipients has been low “because not everyone is cut out for business.” One recipient, an illegally terminated worker from Naga City, said he applied for the assistance in January 2016 and was given a check for PHP10,000. The check was issued to a local merchant who provided her a starter kit for her project.

Another former Hong Kong-based domestic worker who went to Russia only to discover it was a job scam, said she tried applying for the livelihood assistance but balked when she was told she would have to stay in the Philippines for good.

In Nueva Vizcaya province, a cooperative was formed by some former overseas workers and it undertakes livelihood projects. There were 85 recipients of the OWWA assistance as of the end of the third quarter this year, said its president Cristina Gauuan Reyes.

Twenty recipients whose projects – a piggery, sari-sari store and fish vending – were being coordinated by the cooperative.