The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is the government arm that promotes the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) all over the globe. It is a membership program where inclusion is mandatory in nature. There are certain benefits being enjoyed by the members of the OWWA and their immediate beneficiaries.
OWWA is tasked to assist Filipinos bound for work abroad in three key stages: pre-departure, on site and upon arrival to the destination country. For the pre-departure stage, OWWA provides orientation on the culture and existing conditions of the destination countries. On site, the agency protects the workers’ welfare when they experience problems with their employers. After the workers’ time abroad is done, OWWA continues to provide assistance in the form of livelihood trainings, seminars and opportunities for productive reintegration.
What is OWWA Membership Program and How to Apply?
The OWWA is managed by a Board of Trustees and has an Administrator and Deputy Administrator.
Requirements for OWWA Membership
Here are the requirements for OWWA Membership. Applications are usually processed after your contract is approved at the POEA and before you board your flight abroad.
- Copy of our passport (emphasis on data page with your photo)
- Employment Pass/ Work Permit Card
- Filled in OWWA Information Sheet
- Employment contract
- Membership fee (dependent on your destination country, ranging from P1,000 to P1,500 or foreign currency equivalent)
Or you can also apply at the nearest Philippine Embassy or Philippine Overseas Labor Office. The application process does not take long. If you present complete documents, your application process is going to completed within the day.
Upon approval of the membership, the OFW is covered with a life insurance benefit and it will be for a period of two years. The membership and the policy is renewable.
Benefits of OWWA Membership
Once we become members of the OWWA, we are covered by a life insurance and we are eligible for several benefits. Following are some of the social benefits that the OWWA gives us:
* Disability and Dismemberment Benefits – Should a member meet an accident that results in permanent disability or even dismemberment of any body part, he is eligible to receive a sum of Php 50,000 for partial disability (including dismemberment) and Php100,000 for total and permanent disability.
Members who would avail of this benefit need to present their medical certificate from a doctor and the accident report along with other identification papers.
* Death Benefit – There is an automatic rider of Php20,000 for burial benefits. Death by natural causes merit a Php100,000 endowment while an accidental death merits Php200,000 for the family of the deceased.
OFW dependents who will claim the death benefit need to present the death certificate from the Philippine Statistics Authority, foreign death certificate including Airway Bill and Consular Mortuary Certificate or No Objection Certificate. They also need to present the accident report if it is an accidental death.
They also need to attach the burial permit as well as official receipt for funeral expenses. Claimants must also submit 2 pieces of valid IDs and a picture for records purposes.
* OFW Dependents Scholarship Program (OFW DSP) – this is the educational assistance program that releases Php20,000 maximum benefit per school year leading to a bachelors’ or associate’s degree in a state-recognized university or college. The monthly salary of the OFW-member parents should not exceed $400.
* Skills-for-Employment Scholarship Program (SESP) – this is an educational training assistance for OFWs or their legal dependents who seek to upgrade their vocational and technical skills via TESDA. This grants Php 14,500 maximum benefit per course per year.
* Education and Livelihood Assistance Program (ELAP) – Beneficiaries of a deceased OFW will receive educational assistance package on a yearly basis. Elementary level beneficiaries receive P5,000, high school beneficiaries receive P8,000 and college level recipients P10,000 per school year (effectively P5,000 per semester).
Elementary level beneficiaries would also get the chance to complete their schooling until college through the help of the ELAP.
Beneficiaries should present their valid documents for claiming the ELAP and coordinate with the OWWA to process their benefits release. Among the documents needed are similar to that of the death benefit plus proof of school enrolment (School IDs or certification of enrolment from School Head for Elementary and Secondary Levels; Enrolment form for college level and school ID).
The surviving spouse will receive P15,000 as livelihood assistance to create a new source of income. Among the requirements to be prepared are the certificate of marriage (for married spouses) or certificate of no marriage (for common-law partners) and the birth certificates of the children with the parents’ names (or affidavit of acknowledgement of paternity) to create the provenance.
* Seafarer’s Upgrading Program (SUP) –A benefit specifically designed for seafaring OFWs, this is to be given to update and upgrade the skills of seafarers. The benefit is a maximum of Php 7,500 for first time availment. The assistance package can only be availed again after three recorded membership or six years.
Among the requirements that need to be presented aside from the usual identification records are the Seaman’s Book and other seafarer documents as requested.
* Information Technology (IT) Training Program – This provides OFS and their qualified dependent training and technology access to lessen the communication gap between them. This also seeks to upgrade their IT skills.
* OFW Repatriation Program – Distressed OFWs can avail of the Repatriation Program by heading to the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate in their country of work. They will be received and processed and placed in the OWWA Halfway House until they get the chance to go home. Included in the program is the ticket to travel back to their home provinces aside from the ticket back to the country.
* OFW Reintegration Program – Also known as the Balik-Pinas! Balik-Hanapbuhay! Program, it is a non-cash assistance program aimed at displaced and returning OFWs who came home due to war and political conflicts in host countries. This program has an endowment of Php 10,000 worth of trainings and seminars, starter kits and/or business start-up assistance.
The assistance program is only available for displaced OFWs and not for OFWs who have ended contracts. This can be availed within one year from the arrival in the country. The claimant can coordinate with the OWWA offices to present his verification documents and other vital data for processing.
Know your Benefits of Being an OWWA Member
While most OFWs know that they are members of OWWA, the reality is that majority of us do not really know the various benefits that can avail of. We advise that you become more involved in the OFW community in your host country. It pays to be informed when you are not in the home country. Not only would it help us adapt to the culture and current situation but more importantly, it makes us a stronger community.
Be informed, be involved, build a stronger Filipino community abroad! You are an important part of OWWA!