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DOLE and OWWA will assist stranded OFWs in Russia.

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines – In the midst of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have offered to connect troubled overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Russia to other agencies and groups that might help them.

DOLE-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) Director Nathaniel Lacambra said during a press conference on Wednesday that while “There is no specific government program dedicated to their needs, but they are welcome to come to our office and we will help them in any way we can.”

He explained that, in addition to government departments and offices, other non-governmental organizations offer assistance.

“For their individual needs, we can refer them or link them,” he said.

According to Lacambra, governments have halted the functioning of remittance firms as a result of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, prohibiting money from flowing in or out of Russia and making it hard for OFWs in Russia to send money to their family in the Philippines.

“For food needs, we can direct them to the Department of Social Welfare and Development,” Lacambra stated.

He went on to say that once classes for the next school year begin and OFW children or family members need to enroll, the DOLE can connect them with the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) or directly to institutions that may have programs to assist them with their education finance needs.

“I am confident they will be sympathetic to the situation of war-affected families,” the director stated.

According to Edgar Melchor Laigo, the region’s OWWA officer-in-charge, 347 Cordillerans are now working in Russia, many of whom are undocumented and have previously worked in another country.

“Marami sa kanila ang undocumented, hindi OWWA member kasi napunta sila sa Russia galing sa ibang bansa at hindi dumaan sa tamang proseso,” Laigo added.

According to him, the majority of OFWs in Russia work as teachers and domestic staff.

“Many are advised to return home, but they refuse, presumably because they fear losing their jobs here,” he explained.

However, considering the restrictions imposed by other nations on Russia as it attempts to invade Ukraine, the source emphasized that the government is simply concerned about the safety of OFWs.

According to him, relatives of 15 of Russia’s more than 300 OFWs have already visited the OWWA-CAR office to inquire about the conditions for their loved ones to join the organization.

“They are not begging for help; they are enquiring about how their family might become members of the OWWA,” Laigo stated.

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