More than three hundred Overseas Filipino Workers in the Caribbean Islands participated in the first ever virtual one stop shop organized by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Washington, D.C. (POLO-WDC) for the whole month of June this year in celebration of the National Migrant Workers’ Day.
For four consecutive weekends, representatives of government agencies with social protection programs and services for Filipino migrants specifically PAG-IBIG, PhilHealth, Social Security System (SSS), Overseas Filipino (OF) Bank, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) held virtual, personal, one-on-one consultations with OFWs in British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Jamaica , Trinidad and Tobago, and Bahamas.
“Our direction has always been to aggressively reach out to our OFWs and deliver the services in the most effective way possible. We originally wanted to organize a one stop shop in person for all our workers in the Caribbean Islands but then previously, logistics and human resources were a paramount consideration. Then, the pandemic provided POLO-WDC an opportunity, if at all, to optimize virtual/digital platforms to mount this virtual one stop shop. We are very grateful for the representatives of Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, OF Bank, and SSS who had to wake up early and most probably had to to double task , working in their respective offices while doing the virtual consultations with our OFWs.”, Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad , Labor Attaché of POLO-WDC said.
Mr. Eric Elloso, Marketing Officer of Pag-IBIG Virtual Office-North America commented, “POLO WDC’s Virtual One Stop Shop initiative to reach out to our fellow kababayans virtually is remarkable. Government services should be accessible for every Overseas Filipinos. The Pag-IBIG Fund’s Virtual Office plans to replicate this activity. “
In separate messages posted in social media, OFWs expressed their appreciation to continuing efforts of the Philippine government to provide services to Filipinos overseas. One Anne Pitcher of Bermuda commented, “I really enjoyed it and appreciate you all, napakalaking tulong po nito nasagot po lahat ng mga katanungan ko..” While another from British Virgin Islands said, “mas napadali na ngayon”. United Filipino Global representative of Trinidad and Tobago wrote, “maraming salamat xxx sa pagkakataon na makausap namin ang mga ahensya ng ating gobyerno na kapakipakinabang sa aming mga OFWs dito sa Caribbean Islands.”
Virtual one on one consultations were conducted through breakout rooms where all the representatives of the participating government agencies were assigned. “At least one representative from Pag-IBIG, PhilHealth, SSS, OF Bank and OWWA was assigned to one break out room where our workers would be able to have private consultation and meeting with the former.“, Jeane Mendoza of POLO-WDC said. “To ensure that all their requests are accommodated, we had asked our workers to pre-register and indicate the agencies they needed to consult with regards their membership status and their concerns. The entire POLO team of 6, including our Labor Attaché, facilitated the entry and exit of workers, assigning them to the different breakout rooms depending on their preference or their requests,“ Eliza Lucido of POLO-WDC added.###