THE DEPARTMENT of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Tuesday said it is working closely with the Department of Justice (DoJ) to strengthen the monitoring and action against human trafficking activities within the southeast Asian region that target Filipino workers.
“We continue to maintain a tight watch on the online illegal recruitment and trafficking of our workers to those places, especially in Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos,” Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susana “Susan” V. Ople told a news briefing streamed live on Facebook.
The DMW earlier provided P10,000 in cash aid to each of the workers who fell victim to an online illegal recruitment scheme allegedly run by Chinese offshore companies in Myanmar.
Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans J. Cacdac said in December that the DMW plans to set up more livelihood and retraining programs for jobseekers who fell victim to human trafficking schemes.
“We are working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the office of Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel for possible retooling programs for skilled workers and our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were enticed by these fraudsters,” he told BusinessWorld in a Zoom interview.
The 12 victims were rescued in a remote area of Myanmar through a joint operation by Ms. Hontiveros’ office and the DFA.
Meanwhile, Ms. Ople said the DMW plans to use its P 15.8 billion budget to establish 16 regional offices and to hire 1,000 new workers this year.
She noted that the recently-built Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) Hospital in Mabalacat, Pampanga helped over 6,000 families and provided cash assistance amounting to P21.8 million last year.
The hospital was inaugurated in July and is intended to provide medical services exclusively for OFWs and their families.
Mr. Cacdac has said the DMW aims to expand the medical facility this year and improve services for distressed OFWs.
The DMW chief noted that the government has planned bilateral talks with Romania, Hungary and Portugal with the goal of establishing more labor agreements with these European countries.
“One of our key objectives is to increase the number of deployed OFWs for this year and the good news is that there are several emerging markets,” Ms. Ople said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez