The Palawan provincial government will collaborate with various government agencies to enhance efforts in combating illegal recruitment and human trafficking while also implementing initiatives that will provide assistance to victims and former overseas Filipino workers.

Board Member Ryan Maminta said the partnership will be forged through a memorandum of agreement (MOA) which is scheduled to be signed on November 29 with the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) together with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

In a privilege speech during their regular session on Tuesday, Maminta said that with the signing of the MOA, problems like lack of implementation of laws related to migrant workers, lack of awareness of some programs and services of related government agencies will be given more attention and addressed accordingly.

He also said proliferation of illegal recruitment and human trafficking activities that is “adversely affecting labor mobility and the vulnerability of our constituents in the province of Palawan that is one of the serious concerns of the government will be addressed also.”

“The anti-illegal recruitment and trafficking in person campaign will be enhanced and given primordial concern in the undertaking of information campaign, law enforcement activities and coordination with relevant law enforcement agencies to address its proliferation,” he said.

Furthermore, he said the MOA will also focus on the promotion of the rights and welfare of migrant workers including members of their families.

He added that will particularly address issues such as implementation of capability building of LGU internal and external stakeholders, conduct of public information and worker education to overseas employment including full cycle reintegration, establishment of OFW help desks in the province and in critical and strategic municipalities, and conduct of anti-illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons campaign with full cycle reintegration intervention and support for OFWs and their families.

“We will also be having pre-employment, employment and livelihood programs, capability building for LGU and local stakeholders will be conducted by the DMW, OWWA, DOLE and TESDA,” he said.

Meanwhile, DWM Mimaropa OIC Regional Director Jonathan Gerodias said the main objective of the MOA is for the protection of migrant workers and victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking and for the reintegration of former OFWS.

He also said Palawan was chosen as partner for the program due to the fact that the province is being used by illegal recruiters as transit point.

“As we all know, just recently, there were victims of human trafficking and illegal recruitment from the town of Roxas, wherein two died. And just recently, we intercepted around 20 victims in Bataraza and 50 who were about to pass through our airport and are going to Taipei,” Gerodias stated.

“And what’s worse is that the province of Palawan is being used as transit point for human trafficking, the most recent of which were the two women from Pampanga and were rescued after seven months,” he added.

Gerodias likewise said the DMW has already started to roll out some of its programs for former OFWs.

“With the reintegration of our former OFWs, we have started already by giving out financial aid in the amount of P10,000. Through this, they can see that they can start up again whatever small business,” he said.

“And for our former OFW teachers, the DepEd also has a program in partnership with DMW for them to return to teaching,” he added.