Leaving RP made easier

Arroyo OKs move to bring POEA closer to Cagayan Valley

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines — President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has approved the establishment of a satellite office of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) in Cagayan Valley, Catholic Bishop Ramon Villena said Friday.

Villena, who heads the regional development council (RDC) of Cagayan Valley, said Arroyo, over lunch on Monday, ordered Labor Secretary Arturo Brion to immediately consider putting up a POEA office in Tuguegarao City in Cagayan.

“I am sure many of our people in Cagayan Valley will be pleased with this development. They have been longing that the POEA be brought closer to them,” Villena said.

He said he brought the matter to Arroyo following discussions with RDC officials on the difficulty faced by overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Cagayan Valley in transacting with the POEA.

“The POEA office in San Fernando City [La Union] is the only one that attends to the needs of OFWs in Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Cordillera regions. Going there has been more expensive and tedious for our OFWs, who are mostly from poor families,” he said.

POEA records showed that for 2006, 40,068 Cagayan Valley residents left for abroad as overseas workers.

Of the five provinces in the region, Isabela deployed the biggest number of OFWs with 18,851 workers, followed by Cagayan with 13,845, and Nueva Vizcaya with 5,708.

The number, however, does not include undocumented overseas workers who traveled overseas as tourists.

According to Villena, the difficulty of travel from the Ilocos region to San Fernando City in La Union has forced Cagayan Valley OFWs to go to the POEA central office in Pasig City, instead.

“During our last RDC meeting, one of the appeals of the council members was the POEA office, so I have made the commitment to directly ask the President about it. We are grateful that she acted positively on it,” he said.

The soon-to-be-opened office is expected to cater to the needs of OFWs from Region 2 and the provinces of Kalinga and Apayao in the Cordillera, Villena said.

Grace Ursua, regional director of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) here, said however, that her office has not yet been officially informed about the President’s directive.

“DOLE Region 2, Owwa [Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration] and Tesda [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] have recommended that to Undersecretary [Romeo] Lagman during his Sept. 6 visit to Cagayan,” she said.

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