Hon. Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz
Department of Labor and Employment
Women REACH! Program Launching
9:00 A.M., Saturday, 12 March 2016
Tandang Sora Function Hall, TESDA Women’s Center
East Service Road, Taguig City
(As delivered by Undersecretary Nicon F. Fameronag)
Mr. Diego Eduardo GranizoCarillo, President and General Manager, Coca-Cola Far East Limited;
Atty. Adel A. Tamano, Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications, Coca-Cola Far East Limited;
Mr. Juan Carlos Dominguez, Director, Human Resources & Corporate Affairs Operation, Coca-Cola FEMSA Phils;
Ms. Gilda Custodio-Maquilan, Sustainability & Community Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Far East Ltd.;
Mga kasamahan kong lingkod-manggagawa sa DOLE sa pangunguna ni Secretary and TESDA Director Irene Isaac; OWWA Deputy Administrator Josefino Torres; POEA Deputy Administrator Amy Reyes; NRCO Director Chona M. Mantilla and BWSC Director Ahmma Charisma L. Satumba;
TESDA Directors Sonia S. Lipio; Ma. Susan Dela Rama; Pilar de Leon, and TESDA Women’s Center Chief Maria Clara B. Ignacio;
Sa ating mga minamahal na kababayang kababaihang OFW;
Mga panauhin, ladies and gentlemen:
Isa pong mapagpalang umaga sa inyong lahat, at maligayang pagdiriwang ng Buwan ng mga Kababaihan.
This event today is a part of our continuing engagement with private sector partners on the Assist WELL Program of the Department of Labor and Employment in recognition of the fact that collaboration with the private sector is important in achieving a sustained and continuous set of programs and initiatives for OFWs intending to stay in the country for good.
Last Thursday in Quezon City, we had a series of events related to the Assist WELL Program—the public launching of the new PhilJobNet, which was highlighted by a one-day job fair at the Occupational Safety and Health Center and the signing of memoranda of understanding with five companies—Aboitiz Power Corporation, Makati Development Corporation, Republic Cement, Bruno’s Services Corporation, and Mytaxi Philippines, Incorporated. These companies have signified their intention and desire to assist the DOLE in providing job and livelihood opportunities for OFWs under our Assist WELL Program.
If you will notice, these companies are engaged in various industries. Aboitiz Power Corporation is a leader in the Philippine electric power industry; Makati Development Corporation is one of the leading construction companies in the country; and Republic Cement is a proud maker of the best quality cement and building materials.
Bruno’s Services Corporation, on the other hand, is engaged in the business of setting up barbershops and salon systems; while Mytaxi Philippines Incorporated, which owns the brand Grabtaxi, is Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing mobile application. With our partnership with these diverse companies, we are hopeful that we can cater to the needs of OFWs who have different sets of skills.
I have also signed a similar memorandum of agreement with the Department of Health, which is joining the Assist WELL Program by offering job opportunities to licensed medical workers, such as nurses and dentists, in the public sector.
The MOU we are about to sign today with Coca-Cola Far East Ltd. is about a joint initiative, the Women REACH! Program, or “Women Entrepreneurs Reintegrated and Economically Active at Home”. The MOU was supposed to be signed last Thursday, but scheduling posed a problem so we are signing it today.
The Women REACH! Program is another livelihood opportunity program for women OFWs. Over a month ago, or on February 5, I have also signed a similar agreement with Coca-Cola FEMSA, and I expect that by this time, our respective focal persons have already set the implementation details of the MOU, particularly the exchange of relevant information for the development of joint programs for OFWs to be implemented through the Assist WELL Program.
The Women REACH! Program was jointly conceived by the DOLE and Coca-Cola as a public-private partnership venture under the DOLE’s Assist WELL Program.
Women REACH! aims for the economic empowerment of Filipino women migrant workers, especially domestic workers and caregivers returning from overseas work. I am truly grateful that Coca-Cola Far East is joining the growing ranks of private sector companies who share with the DOLE its goal of a reverse migration, especially of vulnerable OFWs.
The Assist WELL Program of the DOLE is a right step towards that direction. The “WELL” in the Assist WELL Program stands for Welfare, Employment, Legal, and Livelihood, the four components of the convergence services that the DOLE’s family of agencies—Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Bureau of Local Employment (BLE), Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns (BWSC), Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) and the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) which supervises the DOLE’s 36 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices—provide to address OFWs’ reintegration needs.
We have started the Assist WELL Program in 2014 through Department Order 139-14; and strengthened it in January this year through Administrative Order No. 21 Series of 2016, to further establish a more cohesive and synchronized convergence of DOLE agencies in providing Assist WELL services, particularly in the light of adverse global developments, such as the decline in the prices of oil, which may impact on the employment of millions of OFWs. The order called for the establishment of Assist WELL Processing Centers, of which there are 20 at the moment—three in Metro Manila and 17 in the country’s 15 other regions. There are also two Assist WELL Processing Centers abroad—one in South Korea and one in Dubai, UAE.
We all know that reintegration is a vital support system that the DOLE provides to OFWs. This unique partnership program between the DOLE and Coca-Cola focuses on Filipino women migrants whom we seek to empower by providing livelihood support to guarantee the viability of their decision to return home.
The WOMEN REACH! Program, a combination of the Coca-Cola 5by20 initiative that seeks to empower five million women entrepreneurs worldwide within the Coca-Cola system by 2020, has a two-tier set of target beneficiaries. The first type of beneficiaries is composed of women returnees who are already in retail business and are already engaged in a sari-sari store, grocery, carinderia, food stall, bakery, or restaurant business. They will automatically qualify as training scholar under the Coca-Cola 5by20 Sari-Sari Store Training and Access to Resources (STAR) Program.
The second type of beneficiaries shall be composed of eligible women OFW returnees who are interested in setting up micro-enterprises of their choice and inclination. They will be invited for an orientation session where they can sign up for training in any of the offered courses at Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Women’s Center, including the Basic Entrepreneurship and Gender Sensitivity course to be jointly developed by the Coca-Cola Far East Limited and the DOLE.
I highly encourage our women OFWs who are of legal age with basic literacy skills on reading, writing, and basic mathematics, to avail of this program, but I also enjoin them to make sure that they dedicate a part of their time in completing the training course at the TESDA Women’s Center, or in any TESDA or DOLE Regional Office. They must also have the willingness to undergo the application process with partner microfinance institutions that can help them grow or set-up their chose enterprise.
This is, indeed, a well-timed undertaking. We are launching this event this Women’s Month, and in many ways, this is our fitting homage to the intrinsic skills of women in successfully managing resources.
Under the DOLE-CCFEL partnership, the latter will allocate slots for women in its 5x20 STAR program and for women migrants who may wish to engage in other micro businesses but who will first be trained. Through its Assist WELL Program, the DOLE shall provide support for the livelihood component, such as livelihood starter kits, or legal and welfare assistance, as necessary. The DOLE will also profile and identify beneficiaries and organize them for the orientation and training sessions. I am truly glad that the CCFEL will also provide beneficiaries access to Coca-Cola sales distributors and products, and refer them to partner microfinance institutions for small business loans.
At this point, may I emphasize that we at the DOLE continually advocate for the welfare of Filipino women workers through the Triple WAP (3WAP) or the Women Workers Welfare Advocacy Program. Administered by our Bureau of Workers with Special Concerns, we also implement the Family Welfare Program, anti-sexual harassment, and other related laws that affect women workers.
The BWSC, under the DOLE Gender and Development Plan, is also conducting national and regional training, orientations, seminars, and similar activities for sustainable livelihood with implications on gender and development to improve access to social protection among women workers.
The Balik-Pinay! Balik Hanapbuhay is also one of the core projects under the National Reintegration Program for OFWs. This program, run by the NRCO, caters to undocumented women OFWs. It is a training and production intervention consisting of skills training, business counseling, and provision of livelihood starter kits valued at P10,000 for women overseas Filipino workers and returnees.
Since its inception in 2011, Balik-Pinay! Balik-Hanapbuhay! has already benefited 5,692 beneficiaries nationwide. This year the National Reintegration Center for OFWs is targeting 2,195 beneficiaries under the said program.
We also have the Balik-Pinas Balik Hanabuhay program which in 2015 has benefited 2,932 distressed OFW returnees with livelihood starter kits handed out by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) through its regional offices. Majority of the distressed OFW-beneficiaries were females who worked as household service workers and caregivers. The program is a one-time, non-cash, livelihood assistance valued at P10,000, given to returning OFWs who were displaced from their jobs due to wars/political conflicts in their host countries, or were maltreated, or victimized by human trafficking.
These are proofs that we incessantly take every step necessary to ensure that the best interest and welfare of our women OFWs is served. Moreover, one concrete initiative, as we have mentioned, is our continued engagement with private companies through the Assist WELL program.
On a final note, I would like to thank the Coca-Cola Far East Limited for this unique opportunity to work on grand project that will enable the DOLE to reach more women OFWs so they will have a chance to a better future, something which they may not have achieved outside of the country because of circumstances that were beyond their control. With this joint program, I am very much excited. Our coming together here today for another fruitful partnership will surely help our migrant women come nearer to the realization of their dreams.
Thank you and once again, good morning. God bless us all.