DT: Filipino President Benigno Aquino III commended Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) as modern-day heroes on the occasion of Filipino Migrant Workers Day yesterday. He spoke during the celebrations organised in the Philippines.
In his address, he said, “You have ventured far from your homes and have undertaken such noble sacrifices for your families. On behalf of the Filipino people, I express my deep gratitude for your hard work that has helped improve lives of the people you love. I commend you for taking part in revitalising the nation together with your countrymen back home.”
“You count among the crucial sectors in our agenda of hope and reform, guided by our conviction that the Filipino people's interests are our first priority,” he added. “Rest assured, your government is doing its utmost to advance your welfare. We can start looking forward to a time where Filipinos will not have to go abroad looking for work out of necessity. If a Filipino does choose to leave, it will be to further their careers and our country's growth.”
Mr Aquino said, “The key to our nation's holistic success is our solidarity, a unity that cannot be defined by geographical boundaries. The spirit of bayanihan lives on and we march in one direction – towards genuine change, our collective growth and our triumph as people.”
Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who are heading back home will now be entitled to loans of up to Php2 million (BD17,500).
The Philippine Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) recently launched the OFW Reintegration Programme where the first 11 beneficiaries received their loan cheques. The programme was called 1st National Congress of OFWs and Families.
Thousands of OFWs have returned to their homeland from troubled Middle East countries and have nothing to fall back on.
The Philippine government has set aside Php2 billion (BD17.5 million) for the fund – a joint venture between the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE), OWWA, Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Minimum loan amounts can start from Php300,000 (BD2,600) up to a maximum of Php2m (BD17,500). The interest rate has been set at 7.5 per cent per annum with up to a seven-year term payment with a two-year grace period.
A maximum of 80pc of the capital requirement can be financed by the loan, the remaining 20 has to be contributed by the entrepreneur. If the applicant cannot afford even the 20pc, he or she is eligible for livelihood starter kits that OWWA offers to start-ups.
Agribusiness, tourism, education and healthcare for the regions are some of the more favoured businesses the integration programme will support.