By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

ASSISTANCE. Migrant Workers Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan speaks to the press during the regular Saturday News Forum at Dapo Restaurant in Quezon City on Jan. 13, 2024. Caunan said the government is in talks with employers in New Zealand who may be willing to absorb Filipinos who lost their jobs after the ELE Groups of Companies declared bankruptcy. (Photo by Robert Alfiler)

MANILA – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is in talks with employers in New Zealand who may be willing to absorb the overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who lost their jobs after ELE Group of Companies declared bankruptcy.

At a news forum in Quezon City Saturday, DMW Undersecretary Patricia Yvonne Caunan said the initiative is on top of the cash aid the government would provide to the OFWs laid off at ELE Holdings Ltd., ELE Management Ltd., ELE Ltd., and Tranzport Solutions Ltd.

“Iyong financial na assistance is just one thing. Ang importante po sa mga kababayan natin iyong magkaroon pa rin sila ng trabaho diyan sa New Zealand (The financial assistance is just one thing, it is important that our fellow Filipinos find jobs there),” she said.

The DMW, she said, is coordinating with different employers in New Zealand to see if they would be willing to employ the affected OFWs.

Caunan said DMW would give about 1,050 New Zealand dollars (at least PHP36,800) to the OFWs affected and has so far wired the cash aid to about 107 eligible recipients.

The agency is still processing the financial assistance for 345 others.

Philippine Ambassador to New Zealand Kira Christianne Azucena earlier met with some of the laid-off OFWs and conveyed that the financial assistance was an “expression of the Philippine Government’s steadfast commitment to the welfare of Filipinos overseas, especially those in distress.”

The closure of the company took effect just before the Christmas holidays, affecting more than 500 Filipino workers who were holders of both work visas and resident visas.

Filipinos holding work visas are permitted to find new employment under New Zealand regulations, but this process would take about two months, the Philippine Embassy in Wellington said. (PNA)