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The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) is the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) link to the world. It is directly under the Office of the Secretary of Labor. It acts as the operating arm of DOLE for the administration and enforcement of its policies and programs applicable to the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW).

To date, there are thirty-four (34) POLOs around the world – 11 of which are in Asia, 13 in the Middle East, 7 in Europe, and 3 in the Americas.

In the performance of its services, the POLOs work in partnership with relevant Philippine government agencies, host government, Filipino communities, and non-government organizations (NGOs) that monitor and assist our overseas workforce.
Polo Organization

A Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLO) is headed by a Labor Attaché who supervises labor corps personnel at post and manages the operations of the FWRC. As stated in R.A. 8042 (1995), each FWRC shall be staffed by a minimum of four (4) personnel composed of the following:

1. A Labor Attaché (DOLE)
2. A Foreign Service personnel (DFA)
3. A Welfare Officer (OWWA)
4. A Center Coordinator (OWWA)
5. An Interpreter, when necessary (local hire)

The POLO operates under the One-Country Team Approach (OCTA) wherein all officers, representatives, and personnel of the Philippine Government posted abroad shall, in each host country, act as one-country team with a mission under the leadership of the Ambassador, who shall act as team leader.

Function

Act as the operating arm of DOLE in their respective geographical areas for the administration and enforcement of duly adopted policies and program of the Department in international labor affairs;

Promote and protect the general welfare of Filipino workers abroad;

Act as representative abroad of the POEA, upon request, to serve as marketing agents of the DOLE with the authority to enter into contracts with foreign employers as established in the negotiating rules of the POEA;

Promote understanding and support between the host government and the Philippines and between Filipino workers and management in the country of assignment through, among others, information dissemination concerning Philippine policies and programs on labor and employment;

Assist Filipino Workers in the preparation of contracts and all documents relating to employment, to certify or attest the same, and whenever authorized, to collect fees therefor, design model contracts of employment suitable to their areas of assignment;

Assist in implementing the foreign exchange remittance program of the government from OFWs to their respective families/beneficiaries in the Philippines;

Keep the DOLE informed on significant development in the field of labor, including political, cultural, social, and economic aspects and policy innovations that may be relevant to Philippine labor needs;

Assist the diplomatic mission or consular mission abroad towards achieving and maintaining cordial relationship and goodwill between the Philippines and the host country;

Submit regular as well as special reports;

Perform other functions as may be provided by law or assigned by the SECRETARY.

COMPULSORY INSURANCE IS NOW REQUIRED FOR OFWs

RA 8042, known as the Migrant Workers Law, now requires recruitment and manning agencies or their principals to provide insurance for all Filipino workers hired by them at no cost to the workers. This is among the amendments introduced by RA 10022.

The insurance must provide payment of at least $15,000 for accidental death, $10,000 for natural death, $7,500 for permanent total disability, the repatriation cost in case of death or invalid dismissal, $100 a month as subsistence allowance for up to six months if the worker files suit abroad, the value of monetary award or compromise settlement in cases before the NLRC, the travel cost of compassionate visit by one relative in case of the worker’s hospitalization for at least one week, and the cost of medical evacuation and medical repatriation, among other things. The insurance willl be effective for the duration of the worker’s contract.

The insurance is required before the worker may leave the country. A certificate of cover (COC) provided by an insurance company licensed and certified by the Insurance Commission (IC) must be presented before the POEA before anoverseas employment certificate (OEC) or exit clearance is issued to him.

For seafarers, other proofs of insurance coverage may be accepted if their vessel is covered by protection and indemnity insurance which is equal to or above the minimum provided by law.

The employer or its agents will not be allowed to pass on to their recruits, directly or indirectly, the cost of the insurance premium and will face the penalties if they do so, including blacklisting and withdrawal of license.

OWWA OPENS 2 FREE TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR ITS MEMBERS

Greek Language training starts on November 14, 2010 with 53 enrollees. This is the batch of OWWA members who missed the same training last year.

Recognizing the fact that the Greek language is the medium of communication in this country, OWWA deems it necessary, nay imperative, that Filipinos in Greece should learn at least conversational Greek not only to prevent any communication gap with their employers but likewise to establish rapport with them.

By doing so, we minimize if not prevent some forms of welfare cases.

In response to the clamor of its members to learn basic computer operation, OWWA offered free training lessons to its members. Chatting via the internet with their loved ones back home shall be cheaper and more effective than calling them via mobile phone which is very expensive in Greece. Thus, teaching them the basics of computer operations will ease and relieve them of the recognized need to be in touch with their families through internet communication.

Basic computer training starts on November 20, 2010 at the FWRC.

With the new Pag-IBIG Law

OFWs to reap more savings and benefits

More savings, more benefits.

This best describes the mandatory membership coverage for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) under the Republic Act 9679 or the Home Development Mutual Fund Law of 2009. The law was implemented beginning 1 January 2010.

Under RA 9679, all OFWs are mandatorily covered by the Pag-IBIG Fund. They can register at any of the Pag-IBIG offices in the Philippines or at its overseas posts, either personally or through a representative. Requirements include photocopies of passport or valid ID.

The minimum contribution rate is P100 per month. However, OFW members may opt to save more than the required contribution rate. Higher savings would mean higher annual dividends earned, as well as higher loanable amounts for short-term and housing loans.

Aside from it being dividend-earning, Pag-IBIG savings are also portable, meaning, the contributions entrusted to the Fund remain in the members’ name, even if they transfer employers or become unemployed and will only be used for their benefits. This is an opportunity for those who were members of Pag-IBIG prior to their overseas employment to reactivate their membership. The Total Accumulated Savings will be released only to the members at time of membership maturity.

In 2009, the Fund declared a total of P8.53 billion in dividends, the highest in its history, giving individual members a 5% dividend rate on their savings.

At this dividend rate, an OFW member’s savings will grow to as much P31, 419.33 if he contributes the minimum P100 monthly for 20 years. If a member chooses to save P300 or P400 monthly, his total savings at maturity would amount to around P94, 259.79 and P125, 679.72, respectively.

Financial Assistance Programs

An OFW who registers with the Fund becomes entitled to avail of benefit programs that are available only to Pag-IBIG members. The Fund offers short-term loans to help members address their immediate financial needs such as payment for tuition fees, hospital bills, appliance purchases, minor home repairs, and even for small business capital.

They may avail of loans equivalent to 60% to 80% of their total savings, depending on the number of remitted contributions, which can be paid over a period of two years.

An active contributing member is also eligible to avail of a housing loan after accumulating 24 monthly contributions. Pag-IBIG housing loans have interest rates of as low as 6% to 11.5%, and are payable in 30 years. The maximum loan amount is P3 million. Pag-IBIG housing loans can be used for the purchase of a fully developed lot within a residential area not exceeding 1,000 sq.m. purchase of a residential house and lot, townhouse or condominium unit, construction or completion of a residential unit on a lot owned by the member, home improvement and refinancing of an existing loan.

As of August 2010, 706,128 OFWs have registered as Pag-IBIG members. Of this figure, 7,340 have availed been granted housing loans totaling P6.272 billion, while 549 members have availed of short-term loans aggregating to P11.703 million.

The Fund has also returned the savings of 2,006 members who have reached membership maturity. Total claims are valued at P82.88 million.

 

Contact Details:

PHILIPPINE OVERSEAS LABOR OFFICE GREECE (POLO-GREECE)

10 Fthiotidos Street, Ambelokipi, Athens

Tel. No. 210-6983-335

Mrs. Rosalia Susana S. Bahia-Catapang

Officer-in-Charge

Mrs. Liwayway Ferrer

Administrative Assistant

 

FILIPINO WORKERS RESOURCE CENTER (FWRC)

10 Fthiotidos Street, Ambelokipi, Athens

Tel. No. 210-6982-871

Mrs. Rosalia Susana S. Bahia-Catapang

Welfare Officer, OWWA Greece

Ms. Roselily A. Villanueva

Administrative Assistant

 

PAG-IBIG OFFICE GREECE

10 Fthiotidos Street, Ambelokipi, Athens

Tel. No. 210-6983-265

Ms. Jean Santos

Pag-IBIG Representative