May 19, 2024

The Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration offered to link distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Russia to other agencies and organizations that can address their needs amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

DOLE-Cordillera Director Nathaniel Lacambra said while “there is no specific government program solely for them to address the needs of the families, they can visit our office and we will assist them in any way we can.”

He said aside from government agencies and offices, various non-government organizations also have assistance programs.

“We can refer them or link them for their specific needs,” he said.

Lacambra said due to the war between Russia and Ukraine, governments have stopped the operation of remittance agencies, thus preventing money from flowing in or out of Russia, making it impossible for OFWs in Russia to send money to their families in the Philippines.

“We can refer them to the Department of Social Welfare and Development for food needs,” Lacambra said.

He added as classes for the next school year open and children or family members of the OFWs need to enroll, the DOLE can link them up with the Commission on Higher Education or directly to the schools which might have programs to help their education financing requirements.

“I am sure they will be considerate to the plight of the families in distress due to the war,” the director said.

Edgar Melchor Laigo, OWWA-Cordillera officer-in-charge, said 347 Cordillerans are working in Russia, many of whom are undocumented and used to work in another country.

“Many of them are undocumented because they went to Russia without going through the process and came from their previous country of deployment,” Laigo said.

Most of the OFWs in Russia are working as teachers and household workers, he said.

“They are being encouraged to come home but they refuse probably because they are afraid that they will end up without a job here,” he said.

The official, however, said the government is only after the OFWs’ safety, considering the sanctions being imposed by other countries on Russia as it attempts to invade Ukraine.

He said relatives of 15 of the more than 300 OFWs in Russia have already visited the OWWA-Cordillera office to inquire about the requirements for their loved ones to become OWWA members.

“They are not asking for help but are inquiring about how their relatives can become members of the OWWA,” Laigo said. – PNA