LOCALIZED initiatives are being rolled out to assist overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and their families amid tension in the Middle East. In Iloilo province, a 24/7 help desk has been set up at the capitol lobby to help address repatriation and other related queries. The Operation Bulig Ilonggo is manned by representatives from the province’s Public Employment Service Office and various national government agencies relating to OFWs, including the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)and the Overseas Workers Welfare Association (OWWA), among others. “As much as possible we would like to only cover requests for repatriation, updates, and communication. All other concerns will be coursed through OWWA and DFA,” Provincial Administrator Suzette A. Mamon said in a statement on Friday.

In Mindanao, a livelihood orientation program will be held in Lanao del Sur this week for OFWs from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Emmanuel F. Piñol said they have drafted various livelihood programs and income-generating projects that returning OFWs can tap. “The MinDA initiative to contribute to the preparations for the crisis was mainly because of the fact that many of the OFWs in Islamic countries in the Middle East come from Mindanao, including the Bangsamoro Provinces,” Mr. Piñol said in a statement last week. “With proper preparation, the feared crisis could yet become a window of opportunity for the agricultural and economic development of Mindanao with the involvement of thousands of OFWs,” he added. — MSJ