The COVID-19 pandemic did not deter the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) of the Philippine Embassy in Singapore in conducting outreach mission in countries under its oversight jurisdiction. POLO said that close to 200 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Indonesia and Cambodia benefitted from the first POLO Virtual Outreach held on 6 December 2020, which brought DOLE, OWWA, SSS and Pag-IBIG representatives together in one video platform to respond to the multiple concerns of OFWs on labor, welfare, social security and housing matters.

POLO conducted the virtual outreach in partnership with the Philippine Embassies in Jakarta, Indonesia and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Labor Attaché Saul De Vries noted that travel restrictions and strict health protocols prevented these embassies from organizing a multi-agency outreach mission this year. Hence, the virtual outreach was thought of to continue POLO’s engagement with OFWs in the said countries.

Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hiong Wee acknowledged the usefulness of the virtual outreach to OFWs especially during this pandemic period when OWWA, SSS and Pag-IBIG programs are needed more than ever. Meanwhile, Chargé d’affaires Myca Magnolia Fischer of the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh said that the activity is a reaffirmation of the Philippine government’s commitment to promote and protect the welfare of OFWs wherever they may be even in places where there is no POLO.

During the virtual outreach, OWWA Officer Zara Zita Reyes, SSS Representative Lucille Simbol and Pag-IBIG Representative Christian Jan Oliveros briefed and responded to numerous questions of participating OFWs on the various social benefits available to OFWs including unemployment, maternity, sickness, retirement, housing,  disability  education and training, livelihood and even high-yielding savings program. Assistant Labor Attaché Macy Monique Maglanque said that these benefits only prove that OFWs can count on government agencies to help them in times of need.

Participating OFWs were also updated on the status of their membership in OWWA, SSS and Pag-IBIG during the virtual outreach, which was streamed live on Facebook with more than 6,300 viewers. ###