The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration is a government agency attached to the Department of Labor & Employment tasked primarily to take care of the well being of the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and their families. As such, it is a lead membership welfare institution that serves the interest and welfare of its member- OFWs.
The creation of OWWA emanates from the Philippine Constitutional mandate for the State to affirm labor, local and overseas, as a primary social economic force and to guarantee the protection of the rights of overseas workers and the promotion of their interests and general well-being.
On May 1, 1977, Letter of Instructions No. 537 was issued formally creating the Welfare and Training Fund for overseas workers and outlined the main objectives and sources of the Fund.
About three (3) years later, on May 1,1980, Presidential Decree No. 1694 was issued institutionalizing the Fund and created the Board of Trustees to formulate operational and administrative policies.
A year later, PD 1809 dated January 16, 1981 was issued creating the Secretariat charged to administer the funds and oversee the Programs implementation for the Overseas Filipino Workers.
About six (6) years later , the Welfare & Training Fund was renamed OVERSEAS WORKERS WELFARE ADMINISTRATION with the issuance of Executive Order 126 on January 30, 1987.
During the same year, the Board decided to bring the services of OWWA closer to its public, thus completing the establishment of its regional offices to 13 political subdivisions at that time and later added four (4) more regional offices namely: Region IV-B, Cordillera Administrative Region, Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao & the CARAGA Region. OWWA Region 2 was among the first to establish its Office in late 1987.
Further to this mandate and in order to enhance service delivery, OWWA increased its presence worldwide by adding more welfare offices within the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices where there’s a large concentration of OFWs. On June 7, 1995, Republic Act 8042, more popularly known as the Migrant Workers & Filipino Overseas Act, became a law which further clarified and enhanced the functions of OWWA and increased the number of board membership of OWWA.
Prior to this date however, on August 13, 1994, OWWA pioneered in the provision of a health care program through Executive Order 195 providing a compulsory coverage of the Medicare program for all OFWs & their beneficiaries except those having existing coverage with the Government Service Insurance System and Social Security System.
Undeniably, the role of OWWA in various international crises cannot be over-emphasized, the death threatening events in the Middle East, Asia and Europe and the huge financial responsibility in addressing the welfare needs of thousands of OFWs trapped in these crises. Today, a total of seventeen (17) Regional Welfare Offices, over two dozens of satellite offices across the country and thirty seven (37) Overseas Welfare offices are now serving our clientele of over 5 million Filipinos overseas and about 25 million at the domestic front. On the part of OWWA region 2, with 15 personnel complement, the office is enjoying serving an OFW population of about 80 thousand families spread in the 5 provinces of the Cagayan Valley Region. On its early month of regional operations, Dir. Robert Bassig was the lone staff and fondly remembers that his working desk, at that time, was located immediately at the door outside the Office of then DOLE Dir. Gerry Castillo where many clients mistook him as his Secretary. All told, OWWA will remain steadfast in its mandate and will continue to persevere bannering its famous slogans through the years: “abot kamay ang paglilingkod” , “OWWA cares”, and “sa OWWA ang miyembro ay protektado”. All these were made possible certainly because of the certainly because of the unwavering support of our institutional partners in...