HOME. A total of 74 repatriates from war-torn Sudan, consisting of 45 overseas Filipino workers, 22 children, and seven students, arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 in Parañaque City on Thursday (May 4, 2023). The Department of Migrant Workers said it will explore employment possibilities for the repatriates if they decide to stay home for good. (PNA photo by Yancy Lim)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) on Friday assured that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from strife-torn Sudan will be prioritized and given needed assistance in case they decide to work outside the country again.

The assurance was made in a virtual press briefing by DMW Undersecretaries Bernard Olalia and Hans Cacdac, after noting that several rescued OFWs expressed their intention either to stay in Egypt where they are currently staying prior to repatriation to the Philippines, or go elsewhere to continue working instead of going back to the country.

The two DMW officials, who are currently in Cairo to assist the distressed OFWs, however, said they have to go home first for government to provide needed mental health assessment and support, and facilitate their redeployment abroad.

Cacdac assured that the Philippine government, through the DMW, is exhausting all employment possibilities for the repatriated Filipinos whether they decide to stay home in the country or go back abroad to work.

“Merong isa na nagsabing meron siyang prospect sa Djibouti, merong isa sa Dubai (There is one who said he has a prospect in Djibouti, while another said in Dubai), but both were told, come home first and we will definitely facilitate the processing,” he said.

Olalia shared that he was able to talk with the skilled worker who was given a good offer by an employer in Djibouti.

“Ang sabi ko sa kanya, sige magpahinga ka muna bisitahin mo muna yung mga pamilya mo dito at pag okay ka na tutulungan ka namin. Bumalik ka sa opisina namin at kami mag pa process mismo para sa pagpunta mo sa Djibouti (I told him go home, rest first and visit your families here and when you are okay, we will help you. Come back to our office and we will do the processing ourselves for you to go to Djibouti),” he said.

Olalia said the DMW is in talks with overseas partners like the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and has also asked various recruitment agencies in the country with approved job orders to prioritize the repatriated Filipinos from Sudan for future job matching.

Meanwhile, those who wish to stay in the country will be given the option if they want to work in a company or start a small business.

As directed by DMW Secretary Susan Ople, Cacdac said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), in collaboration with the DMW National Reintegration Center, has already established partnerships with certain private companies in the country that are willing to accommodate workers.

Moreover, those who want to venture into business will be introduced and briefed on the franchising business via food carts and stalls.

Currently, Cacdac said that a total of 155 Filipinos from Sudan have been repatriated: 77 individuals for the first batch, and 83 for the second batch set to arrive on Friday night.

Aside from them, another batch consisting of 45 individuals is also expected to arrive.

Cacdac said Ambassador Ezzedin Tago told him that around 53 more Filipinos have expressed intent to be transported from Khartoum to the Egyptian border.

Meanwhile, Cacdac said the DMW has been trying to convince the remaining Filipinos in Sudan to prioritize their safety and avail of the repatriation program by the Philippine government, especially since the situation in the said country remains unpredictable.

“Ang pahiwatig dito (What we are saying) is still, the sincere and strong effort to convince our fellow Filipinos to come home. Kasi (Because) the objective is for them to be free from harm and be safe, and if that is the goal then it's best to exit Sudan and come home,” he said. (PNA)