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DMW to provide training, aid for human trafficking victims

PHILIPPINE STAR/ EDD GUMBAN

By John Victor D. Ordoñez, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Migrant Workers (DMW) plans to provide livelihood and retraining programs for jobseekers who fell victim to human trafficking schemes, an official said.

“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,” Migrant Workers Undersecretary Hans Leo J. Cacdac told BusinessWorld in a Zoom interview.

On Nov. 12, the DMW provided P10,000 in cash aid to workers who fell victim to an online illegal recruitment scheme allegedly run by Chinese offshore companies in Myanmar.

They were initially offered jobs in customer service and technical positions but were instead made to form relationships with potential bitcoin investors through dating apps and other social media platforms.

The 12 victims were rescued in a remote part of Myanmar through a joint operation by Ms. Hontiveros’ office and the DFA.

Meanwhile, the DMW also plans to expand the newly established OFW Hospital to provide more in-patient services.

The seven-story hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga was inaugurated in July and is intended to provide medical services exclusively for OFWs.

It will also serve as the primary referral hospital for repatriated OFWs in need of medical care.

“We want to help our OFWs reintegrate into the national mainstream and to improve services for distressed OFWs,” Mr. Cacdac said.

The DMW is a newly-established government agency that will be fully operational by next year.  

Migrant Workers Secretary Maria Susana V. Ople said the government plans to deploy more labor attachés in 2023 to ensure the protection of OFWs.

In 2020, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reported that there were 1.77 million land and sea-based OFWs, down from the 2.18 reported in 2019 before the coronavirus pandemic.

Cash remittances from overseas workers rose to $2.84 billion in September from $2.74 billion a year earlier, according to the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

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