MANILA -- The 30 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were repatriated back to the Philippines from Kuwait early this week are entitled to livelihood assistance to help them have their own source of income.

According to Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia, the qualified OFW can receive PHP20,000 worth of livelihood assistance which consists of business starter kits, tools, and raw materials with the aim to improve their socio-economic well-being.

“We have a number of programs which we can offer to our returning kababayan,’ one of which is the Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay, where we will assist them in establishing their own business,” Olalia said in a statement Wednesday.

Aside from livelihood benefits, the POEA chief said the Filipino workers will also be provided with legal assistance should they decide to file charges against their Arab employers, as well as their recruitment agencies.

Olalia also vowed to look into the issues and cases of the repatriated OFWs to further understand their condition in Kuwait and to assess other interventions needed by the returning Filipino workers.

Majority of the repatriated Filipino workers who have sought shelter in the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC) in Kuwait, have run away from their Arab employers due to physical and sexual abuse, some have failed to receive proper wages and benefits as stated in their contracts, while others were barred from contacting the Philippine Embassy, as well as their families.

“We are very grateful to POLO OWWA in Kuwait for their assistance. We have truly felt their help as they have continued fighting for our rights. If OWWA will provide us with livelihood assistance, I will pursue this first and maybe I can stay in the country for good,” Analyn, one of the repatriated OFWs said.

Balik Pinas Balik Hanapbuhay, is a non-cash livelihood support/ assistance which provides immediate relief to returning active or inactive Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) member-OFWs displaced from their jobs due to war/political conflict in host countries, or policy reforms, controls, and changes by host governments; or were victims of illegal recruitment and /or human trafficking, or other distressful situations.

OWWA officers have also provided airport assistance such as facilitation of their travel documents and screening at the Immigration booths, and baggage claims, while those who wait for their flights back to their respective provinces were given temporary accommodation.

Other returning OFWs who reside in the Luzon area were given transportation assistance.

The distressed OFWs arrived from Kuwait via Gulf Air on March 4. They were met by Olalia representing Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, together with officials from OWWA. (PNA)