Eligible returning Filipino amnesty-seekers to get livelihood assistance

They need to get a referral letter from welfare officers in missions before flying home

An amnesty-seeker receives her travel documents from attache Merwin Valeza at the Philippine embassy in February 2013.

Dubai: Eligible Filipino amnesty-seekers will receive livelihood assistance to help them start a small business back home, a Philippine official said.

Undocumented Filipinos who avail of amnesty and return to the Philippines may apply for the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay programme.

The livelihood assistance under the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is intended to provide immediate relief to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

It includes a 20,000-peso (Dh1,500) cash assistance, entrepreneurship development training, and other assistance such as market linkages and job referrals.

Speaking to Gulf News, Labour Attache Felicitas Bay said: “This cash assistance is a start-up or additional capital for the livelihood project, but the money will not be given directly to the applicant. OWWA regional offices in the Philippines will evaluate the applicant and provide the necessary training to them. Once they have an approved business plan, OWWA will process the release of their cheques.”

Not all amnesty-seekers are eligible

Based on the guidelines, returning OWWA members, active or non-active, who were displaced by conflict or war, victims of illegal or human trafficking or other distressful situations, distressed wards, and workers whose companies went bust due to economic conditions such as what recently happened in Saudi Arabia may avail of the programme.

Applicants need to visit the labour offices in the Philippine missions in Dubai and Abu Dhabi and get a referral letter from the welfare officers before flying home.

“Welfare officers will evaluate the applicant and issue the referral to the OWWA regional office. OWWA will evaluate if the amnesty-seeker qualifies as eligible beneficiary of the programme,” Bay said.

Applicants may choose from a number of business ideas such as food and beverage, e-commerce, health and wellness, events organising, art and craft and agriculture.

Similar livelihood projects were given to eligible returning Filipinos from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait earlier this year.

OWWA released 7.58 million pesos (Dh541,000) in livelihood assistance to its member-migrant workers under the Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay programme during the first three months of 2018.

For details, email dubai@owwa.gov.ph or owwa_dubai@yahoo.com

Passport renewal

Filipino amnesty-seekers who wish to remain in the UAE, but do not have valid passports have been advised to approach the Philippine consulate as soon as possible.

“They can request for an early appointment and will be given due consideration and priority,” Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes said.

Biometrics will be done at the consulate. The new passport will be issued in three to four weeks. Passport renewal cost of Dh240 still applies.

For details, email amnesty@pcgdubai.ae.

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