The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers (MWOFRC), otherwise known as the Center serve as the central hub of welfare and assistance for migrant Filipinos. Though these centers were originally created to serve as temporary shelters for female migrant Filipinos in distress, they have evolved into “the closest thing migrant Filipinos have for a home.”
The recent release of the DFA’s Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Overseas ensures that these centers have clear-cut and specific guidelines to help OFWs get the assistance when they need it. Read this guide to learn more about what these centers are for and how they can help the migrant Filipino workers.
- MWOFRC Functions
- Center Administration and Operations
- MWOFRC Services
- How to Apply for Admission to the MWOFRC
- Center Rules And Regulations
- Important Reminders
- Frequently Asked Questions
- 1. Is it possible to visit a ward at the MWOFRC?
- 2. What kinds of activities are allowed and prohibited at the centers?
- 3. Does the MWOFRC accept donations?
- 4. Can MWOFRC wards accept financial assistance?
- 5. What are the conditions for allowing Filipino Community (FILCOM) or the non-government organizations (NGOs), or Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) use of the center as a multi-purpose hall?
What is Migrant Workers and Other Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC)?
The MWOFRC stands for The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers or Centers established by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in countries with a lot of migrant workers to help them in times of need. The MWOFRC are meant to reflect the ideal standards of how workers should be treated, served, and cared for in any place around the world.
These centers were intended to serve as transient houses for distressed female OFWs and provide immediate interventions to resolve their cases. The centers also host various POLO-, DFA-, and DOLE-initiated seminars and skills training or upgrading as well as community- and non-government organizations (NGO)-initiated developmental and community activities. These centers are strategically located within, proximate to, or outside the premises of the country’s Philippine Embassy or Consulate. It endeavors to serve as multi-purpose halls meant for reintegration preparedness seminars, skills training, meetings, and personal, social, and economic reintegration training.
Through the MWOFRC, the government hopes to transform their wards’ unfortunate experiences into experiences that will help them reflect and achieve recovery, personal development, empowerment, economic advancement, and spiritual enhancement. Its mission: To provide a venue where distressed OFWs may start rebuilding their lives while ensuring their protection and well-being with the help of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), religious groups, and other private associations and individuals.
The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers (MWOFRC) was meant to serve the following functions:
- As temporary shelter for female OFWs in distress
- To serve as multi-purpose hall for developmental activities, including reintegration preparedness seminars, skills trainings, Filipino Community (FILCOM) meetings and other FILCOM activities
- For other purposes including seminars and skills training or upgrades, as decided by the Head of Post and the Labor Attaché
Center Administration and Operations
The MWOFRC will be operating under the management of the following:
- The Labor Attaché
The Labor Attaché, on behalf of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), is mandated to supervise and coordinate the operations of the Center, including, but not limited to the preparation of the annual activity plan and activities, appointment of the Center Coordinator and Assistant Center Coordinator, and reporting of unusual/out-of-the-ordinary occurrences.
- The Head of Post
The Head of Post will receive the monthly reports from the Labor Attaché while watching over all the matters involving the Center and regulating the preparation of the annual activity planning.
- The Center Coordinator
The Center Coordinator is in-charged of the day-to-day operations and maintenance of the facility. This responsibility include:
- Strict enforcement of the centers’ House Rules and Regulations;
- Daily monitoring of the wards using a prescribed Daily Report template;
- Together with the Welfare Officer/ATN Officer, ensuring the provision of medical assistance in cases of illness of wards;
- Assistance in the implementation of social and developmental programs and activities for wards;
- Preparation and submission of a weekly custodial report of wards to POLO;
- Preparation of a monthly report on the Center operations; and
- Maintenance of the following logbooks:
- Record of admission and discharge of wards;
- Record of POLO/Embassy/Consulate personnel and visitors entering and leaving the Center; and
- Record of arrival in and departure from the Center of the wards.
- The Assistant Center Coordinator
Just like the Center Coordinator, the Assistant Center Coordinator is also appointed by the Labor Attaché to help manage the daily operations and maintain order in the Center.
- The Social Welfare Attaché (SWATT/SSA) (if present)
Sometimes, some centers also employ Social Welfare Attaché (SWATT) or Social Service Attaché (SSA) to provide psychosocial services to the Center’s wards, upon the request of the Head of POLO or ATNU. The Welfare Officer also handles the assessment and admission of applicants to the Center, in accordance with the rules and policies on the admission of distressed overseas Filipino workers.
MWOFRC Maintenance and Cost-sharing
For the cost of operations: The DFA, DOLE, OWWA and DSWD will share the cost of operations, manpower requirements, and in the development and maintenance of the Shared Database System.
For specific shared obligations towards MWOFRC operations: Philippine Embassies/Consulates shall arrange a cost-sharing scheme with the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and SWATT or Social Service Offices (SSOs) in the host countries.
For maintenance expenses: The DOLE shall be responsible for the following:
- expenses for the rental and maintenance of the Center
- other provisions necessary for the orderly operations of the Center (e.g.: beddings, fixtures, furniture, etc.)
For professional security services: The DFA and DOLE shall equally share among themselves the total cost for the Center security and protection.
The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Centers (MWOFRC) or Centers keep up with their mandate of protecting OFWs in distress via the following services that they offer:
- Counseling and legal services;
- Welfare assistance and medical and hospitalization services;
- Information and advisory programs to promote social integration, like:
- Post-arrival orientation (PAOS)
- Community networking services and
- Activities for social interaction;
- Registration of irregular or undocumented workers
- Implementation of the different programs of DOLE and OWWA;
- Human resource development, training, and skills upgrading;
- Gender-sensitive programs and activities
- Orientation program for returning workers and other migrants;
- Monitoring of the daily situations, circumstances, and activities
- Ensuring that labor and social welfare laws in the receiving country are fairly applied to OFWs
- Conciliation of disputes arising from employer-employee relationship
How to Apply for Admission to the MWOFRC
Gaining admission to the centers requires satisfying specific criteria upon application. To learn more, make sure you satisfy the qualifying criteria, then follow the application procedures detailed in this section:
The Center accepts wards who satisfy the following criteria for admission:
- Must be a female Filipino citizen in distress;
- Must have a pending or on-going employment contract-related problem;
- Must have left her accommodation and has nowhere else to go; and
- Must have reported to the Center within 48 hours after leaving her accommodation, unless she has a legitimate reason for failing to appear at the Center within the prescribed period, or cleared by the Head of Post/POLO.
- Other special cases may require review and approval
- Female OFWs who were charged or arrested for a criminal offense, and subsequently released to the Philippine Embassy/Consulate on a second party custody arrangement, as well as those who were involved in other ATN cases, may be admitted to the Center, subject to the approval of the Head of Post/POLO.
- OFWs, who have warrants of arrest, shall be endorsed to the ATNU for appropriate action.
- OFWs who are suffering from mental and physical problems and requiring professional care must be endorsed or referred immediately to an appropriate health service provider.
- Request for readmission of OFWs who previously left the Center in violation of the rules, shall be subject to clearance and approval of Head of Post/POLO.
- A separate Center for males shall be established, as may be allowed by the rules and regulations of the host government, and subject to availability of funds.
MWOFRC Admission Procedures
For OFWs who desire to seek admission at any MWOFRC, the following admission procedure shall be observed:
- Fill out the required Application for Center Admission form;
- Read and agree to both the general and country-specific rules and regulations of the Center;
- Once the form is completed and you find the rules acceptable, submit the application.
- The Welfare Officer shall evaluate the application based on the established criteria for admission and house rules at Post,
- The Welfare Officer will then submit a recommendation of approval or disapproval to the Head of Post/POLO or his authorized representative and notify the applicant;
- Upon approval of admission, the Welfare Officer shall immediately endorse the accomplished Application for Center Admission to the Center Coordinator.
- The Center Coordinator will reach out to the applicant and brief the new ward on Center rules and regulations;
- The new OFW-turned-center ward will need to sign her Conforme to the House Rules to prove that she understands and will abide by the rules and regulations of the Center, and that violation of these rules shall be a ground for disciplinary action and/or discharge from the Center; and
- Once the orientation is completed, the Center Coordinator will log into their recording system the following information about the new ward:
- Date and time of admission,
- Brief statement of personal circumstances
- Health condition
- Special medical attention required
- Inventory of ward’s personal belongings at the time of admission
- Date and time of discharge from the Center
MWOFRC Discharge Procedures
Household Service Workers (HSWs) and non-HSW wards are discharged from the Center upon resolution of their case.
For non-HSW wards: this resolution may mean:
- Returning to their employer
- Transfering to another employer
- Repatriation to the Philippines
For HSW wards: A resolution of a case could only happen when:
- Her custody is legally required by the host government authority,
- She is scheduled for repatriation to the Philippines.
For other wards: Discharge may be allowed, subject to the respective House Rules of each Post in the host countries.
The following procedures are observed in the discharge of wards from the Center:
- Upon the release of the discharge order, the ward shall present all of her belongings for inspection and take them with her upon departure from the Center;
- The Center Coordinator shall also return all the personal belongings of the ward that were deposited to the Center for safekeeping.
- The ward will then acknowledge the receipt of the returned items and sign the Discharge Form, which shall form part of her case file;
- A Discharge Report including the full details of how the ward’s case was settled or terminated, will then be prepared and signed by the appropriate unit/officer, and shall form part of the ward’s record/file.
Center Rules And Regulations
In order to maintain order, discipline and overall safety and security inside the Center in an effort to enhance its operations, the following general rules and regulations are established:
- Mandatory inventory of the ward’s belongings upon admission as ward in the Center;
- All inventories are logged and registered to avoid loss or damage of important personal belongings, occurrence of conflict among Center wards, and the imprudent use of such personal effects, all appliances, gadgets and valuables of the ward.
- The inventory of turned-over belongings shall be signed by the ward for conformity.
- A copy of the inventory shall be provided to the ward, and another copy shall be kept among the records of the Center Coordinator, for reference when returning the belongings to the ward upon discharge.
- Upon the ward’s admission at the Center, the wards shall be profiled accordingly, and the Center shall facilitate necessary seminars and skills training/upgrading in preparation for their personal, social and economic reintegration when they return to the Philippines;
- The wards shall be prohibited from engaging in full time or part time work inside or outside the Center, whether with or without remuneration, while under the custody of the Center.
- Wards are also not allowed to work in the households or do personal errands of the Embassy/Consulate and POLO officers and other staff including the Center Coordinator;
- No ward shall be allowed/permitted to perform volunteer work in the offices of the Embassy/Consulate and the POLO;
- Only the designated female Center Coordinator shall be allowed to reside at the Center. No member of her family are allowed to reside at the Center with her;
- The Head of POLO shall conduct weekly dialogues with the Center wards and the highlights of the meeting shall be reported to the Secretary for case updating, and to address their needs and other concerns;
- The Center shall always maintain a First Aid kit for their wards and personnel; and
- All activities at the Center shall be geared towards the enhancement of values and skills of the wards.
If you are a distressed female OFW and you are interested in seeking refuge at the Centers, then here are some reminders for you:
- No visit/engagement/activity shall be allowed before 10:00 AM and after 7:00 PM.
- No organization/individual shall be allowed entry into the Center without the approval of the Labor Attaché, the Acting Head of POLO or the Welfare Officer.
- All visitors shall leave the Center premises by 7:00 PM
- Due to restricted garbage disposal in the community, all the trash accumulated during activities shall be disposed of by the visiting organization or individual.
- Public disclosure of the location of the Center and identities of the wards are not allowed.
- POLO personnel, including the Center Coordinator, are not allowed to accept financial assistance on behalf of the wards.
- Soliciting funds and donations from other organizations and individuals using the Center or the wards are not allowed.
- The Head of POLO and the Center Coordinator shall be responsible for the scheduling of the use of the Center facilities by the FILCOM, NGO, or CSOs.
Frequently Asked Questions
To help you learn more about the MWOFRC and how it carries out its mandate, here are the common questions and answers about it:
1. Is it possible to visit a ward at the MWOFRC?
Yes. However, there are certain rules imposed in the centers regarding visitation requests. These rules are listed below:
- Requests to visit and engage the MWOFRC wards shall be made in writing and addressed to the Labor Attaché of the concerned POLO.
- All requests should be received by POLO at least one week before the intended date of visit/engagement. All requests must come with the following information:
- Name of the requesting organization/individual
- Names, position and contact details of all individuals joining the visit or engagement
- Purpose of visit/engagement
- Date, time and duration of the visit or engagement
- Proposed specific activities to be undertaken and program of activities and
- List of equipment to be used for activities to be undertaken.
- All requests for visit or engagement shall be subject to approval of the Labor Attaché or in his/her absence, the Acting Head of POLO or the Welfare Officer.
2. What kinds of activities are allowed and prohibited at the centers?
The following are allowed for visiting organization and individuals:
- Skills training;
- Psycho-social counseling;
- Using visual aids for presentation
The following are strictly prohibited:
- Prayer sessions, Eucharistic celebration and related activities;
- Fun games, indoor exercises and related activities;
- Film-showing; and
- Promotion/marketing and selling of products;
- Enticement of wards to join/enroll in religious denomination, organization, clubs and the like;
- Political assembly or campaigning and related acts.
- Use of sound system
- Drinking liquor or alcoholic beverages, smoking, and gambling within the premises
- Posting photos and videos of the MWOFRC and the wards on social media
- Public disclosure of the location of the MWOFRC and identities of the wards
3. Does the MWOFRC accept donations?
Yes. The MWOFRC accepts in-kind donations like food, groceries, toiletries, clothes, and beddings for the use of the facility and its wards but it must be listed in an inventory and cleared with the POLO first. Overused articles or clothes and money are not be accepted.
4. Can MWOFRC wards accept financial assistance?
Yes. Though MWOFRC does not accept monetary donations, financial assistance given directly to the wards are allowed, provided that the Center Coordinator is notified of the amount and purpose of such assistance for recording purposes.
5. What are the conditions for allowing Filipino Community (FILCOM) or the non-government organizations (NGOs), or Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) use of the center as a multi-purpose hall?
Members of FILCOM, NGOs, or CSOs may use the centers as multi-purpose halls provided that they satisfy the following conditions:
- The requesting party must submit a letter of request addressed to the Head of POLO, at least one month in advance from the date with the following information:
- the intended activity,
- the name of the group,
- a directory of the officers,
- the activity that they wish to conduct,
- the date and time of the activity,
- the duration of the activity,
- the expected number of participants or attendees, and
- the Center facilities/equipment to be used
- The requesting party shall obtain prior approval from the Head of POLO;
- The FILCOM/NGO must sign a Conforme agreeing to the rules and policies on the use of the Center facilities, which includes:
- Ensuring that activities or meetings are conducted without violating any laws, rules and regulations, religious beliefs, and traditions of the Philippines and the host country
- Ensuring that all activities do not hamper, disrupt or interfere with the normal operations of the Center, Embassy/Consulate and the POLO; and
- Ensuring that the Multipurpose Hall is clean and orderly after the activity.
- Organizations or persons, whose use of the Center may pose conflict of interest, or raise issues or possible security or political concerns, shall not be allowed to use the Center facilities.
The Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC/Center) was established as a venue for reflection, recovery, and transformation of lives of distressed female OFWs in their times of need. The Centers are under the administrative jurisdiction of the Embassy of the Philippines and the immediate supervision of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO). As the central hub of welfare and assistance the MWOFRC are meant to be “the closest thing migrant Filipinos have for a home.”
For inquiries or concerns about the MWOFRC, you may reach out to the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate or the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) with jurisdiction over the OFWs workplace.