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One-stop processing center set up for Sabah repatriates in Turtle Islands
Tue, Apr 30, 2013 (Source: OWWA)
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Regional Welfare Office No. 9, in cooperation with the Crisis Management Committee (CMC) has established a One-Stop Processing Center (OSPC) for Sabah Displaced Persons (DPs) in Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi on April 4, 2013.

The Regional CMC under ARMM Governor Mujiv S. Hataman, of which DOLE-OWWA is a major player, acted upon the request letter of DSWD Secretary Corazon J. Soliman to DOLE Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz for the creation of the center.

The CMC assessed the possible influx of returning undocumented Filipinos in Taganak, Turtle Islands being the closest municipality to Sabah and reachable by speedboat in just one hour.

Within a period of one month, a total of 990 DPs were recorded by CMC since March 9 to March 29. Filipino evacuees fleeing Sabah arrived in Poblacion Taganak, Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi on board M/L Fatima Sherin.

Hassan T. Jumdain, OWWA9 Regional Director and head of the OSPC Special Operations—Sulu &Tawi-Tawi, together with the Regional CMC Chair, Assistant Secretary Sharifa Pearlsia A. Dans of the DILG-ARMM, led the composite team to carry out the special mission to establish an OSPC in the above-mentioned municipality.

The newly established OSPC is manned by representatives from DSWD, DOH, OCD, DTI& DOLE-OWWA who immediately cater to the needs of the DPs and assess them for appropriate interventions.

Director Jumdain, who personally interviewed the DPs disclosed that the cost per trip ranges from 1,500 to 2,000 Malaysian Ringgit.

“There is no regular transport from Taganak to Bongao, therefore, the DPs accumulate from over a hundred or more before a navy ship ferries them to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.” Jumdain added.

The OSPC will also facilitate the provision of legal documents for those who wish to return to Sabah while those who opt to remain in the country will be assisted with livelihood and other social services.

It can be recalled that in 2005, Malacanang enjoined all government agencies to address such situation following a massive crackdown in Sabah through an organized, integrated and systematic welfare and assistance program to extend the necessary help to affected overseas Filipinos designating the Department of the Labor and Employment as the lead agency.

END Mary Jane R. Amarado, Labor Communications Officer – OWWA9

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