DSWD meets representatives from partner agencies and formed a team that will look into the needs of Overseas Filipinos who are expected to arrive in the country from Middle East. (DSWD Photo)

KORONADAL CITY —Government line agencies in the region formed a repatriation team that will look into the needs of Overseas Filipinos (OFs) who are expected to arrive in the country anytime following the mandatory repatriation directive of President Rodrigo Duterte amid the tension in the Middle East between United States and Iranian forces.

Cezario Joel Espejo, DSWD-12 regional director, said they met Wednesday in this city their counterparts from the Department of Trade and Industry, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration  and  Technical Education and Skills Development Authority including local government representatives. The team agreed to complement the delivery of services for affected OFs. 

According to Dir. Espejo, the composite team will specifically extend assistance and other services to affected workers, including free calls from telecommunication firms when OFs arrives at the airport.

“As government workers, this is what we signed for. And we need them to feel the government is working, assisting and providing them services,” he said.

Nairah Aratuc, chief of social protective program, said initial information from OWWA around 14 OFs are expected to return home soon amid the tension in the Middle East after Iranian forces recently fired missiles at U.S. troops in Iraqi territory to retaliate for an airstrike that killed a top general.

Aratuc said the agency will provide educational and financial assistance under Assistance to Individuals in Crisis Situation (AICS), a program that serves as a social safety net or a stop-gap measure to support the recovery of individuals and families suffering from unexpected life events or crisis.

An estimated 2.17 million documented Filipinos are working across the Middle East, many of them employed as laborers or domestic helpers. (JBM/ DSWD)