DFA expedites repatriation of OFWs in Beirut, Lebanon

Marje Pelayo   •   August 10, 2020   •   530

MANILA, Philippines — The national government is shelling out P15 million to fund the repatriation of overseas Filipinos in Lebanon following two massive explosions in Port of Beirut.

This was revealed by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin in a post on Twitter. 

The said amount will fund a chartered flight with Qatar Airways to fly the Filipinos in Lebanon back home to the Philippines. 

Meanwhile, the Philippines Embassy in Beirut is processing the repatriation of the remains of all four Filipinos who died in the incident. 

Their remains are expected to arrive on August 16.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said about 400 overseas Filipinos from Lebanon are expected to board the chartered flight. 

Before the blasts, the agency has been doing repatriation of Filipinos from Lebanon whose jobs have been impacted by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

To date, there are a total 124, 717 Filipinos who returned home from Lebanon since February. 

OFWs exempted from travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 strain cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries with a travel ban from the government are exempted and will be allowed to enter the Philippines, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a press conference on Tuesday (December 29), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte wants OFWs to be able to return to their families.

Bello said returning OFWs would need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some 60,000 to 100,000 OFWs are expected to return in the next two weeks, he added.

Duterte, on Monday (December 28), approved the imposition of travel ban on countries with confirmed reports of the new strain of COVID-19. The travel ban will take effect on December 30 at 12:01 a.m. until January 15. AAC

DOLE wants OFWs, minimum wage earners included among priorities for COVID-19 vaccine

Marje Pelayo   •   December 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage workers to be among the first to receive the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available.

In an interview with UNTV, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said minimum wage earners comprise about 60% to 70% of the country’s overall workforce thus, they also should be prioritized in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Kailangan tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga minimum wage workers para matiyak natin din yung ating negosyo at ang ating economic recovery (We need to ensure the safety of our minimum wage workers so we can guarantee the success of our businesses and economic recovery),” Bello said.

He also reiterated that overseas Filipino workers play an important role in the country’s economy in the form of remittances, hence they should be listed at least among the top six in the order of priority.

Doon naman sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers, tinagurian silang bagong bayani, modern day heroes so they should be treated as modern days heroes (Overseas Filipino workers are considered modern-day heroes so they should be treated as that),” the Secretary said.

ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay supports the idea saying workers are exposed to threats of COVID-19 and the possibility of transmission is high.

He also suggested the possibility of investors leaving the country and transferring to other countries that are already administering the vaccine.

May posibilidad na magsilipat ang mga investors doon sa mga bansang nabakunahan na dahil regular na ang mobility nila, ang pagbyahe ng mga manggagawa (There is a possibility that investors would go to countries where vaccines are available because mobility and travel of workers there are back to normal),” Tanjusay argued.

DOLE said the expenses for the vaccination may be shouldered by either the government or the employers.

The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said big companies could probably afford to shoulder the expenses.

The only concern, he said, are the small and medium companies that comprise about 90% of businesses in the country.

Kahit anong gawin natin hindi kayang magpabakuna noon. Iyon nga lang 13th month pay alam mo naman nagkahirapan tayo. Iyon pa kaya sa bakuna na iyan (Whatever we do they wouldn’t be able to afford the vaccine. They can hardly provide for their workers’ 13th month pay, how much more for the vaccine),” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.

The employers’ group said, it should be the government that will shoulder the expenses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

ECOP said it is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as to who they want to prioritize for the vaccination and not all workers are obliged to take it. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

DOTr boosts testing capacity in NAIA as OFWs return for the holidays

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 17, 2020

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) has boosted its One-Stop-Shop as more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return home for the holidays.

DOTr’s Office for the Transportation Security (OTS) Administrator Usec. Raul Del Rosario said this is to prevent the previous inconvenience caused by delayed COVID-19 test results.

Based on the OTS data, an estimated 5,000 OFWs arrive in the Philippines every day during the holidays.

Del Rosario also said additional Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel were deployed.

The One-Stop-Shop partnered with four COVID-testing laboratories to accommodate more OFWs.

Nagkaroon kami ng commitment among these laboratories, nag-commit sila na 24 hours ilalabas nila ang result at walang lalagpas ng 48 hours (We had a commitment among these laboratories. They committed to release the results in 24 hours and not exceeding 48 hours),” he said.

The One-Stop-Shop can process 10,000 swab tests per day, Del Rosario added.

Aside from the laboratories, there are also 21,000 slots available in hotels where OFWs can stay while waiting for their COVID-19 test results. -AAC (with reports from Joan Nano)

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