MANILA, Philippines – Some 354 distressed overseas Filipino workers repatriated from Saudi Arabia are set to arrive in the country on Wednesday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.
In a statement, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the group of repatriated Filipinos is expected to land in Manila on Wednesday afternoon onboard a chartered flight.
In a report to Bello, Labor Attache Nasser Mustafa said majority of the passengers are distressed OFWs from Philippine Overseas Labor Office’s Bahay Kalinga in Riyadh, and from temporary shelters maintained by the POLOs in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.
Also included in the flight are 12 workers from Jussur Emdad, 45 workers from Arkad Co., as well as 14 OFWs previously employed by Abdullah Aldossary, Azmeel Contracting Co., Rakan Trading, which are all based in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.
These OFWs joined a number of OFWs who have worked for Freyssinet, Jussur Emdad, Samana Company and Rent Human Resources as well as walk-in OFWs whose exit visas were facilitated by the labor office in Riyadh, Bello added.
The labor chief said he has instructed the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide all necessary assistance to the returning Filipino workers.
The repatriation of the OFWs is in line with the department’s efforts to provide assistance to OFWs adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unfortunately, some of our OFWs have been greatly impacted by the pandemic and we hope that our repatriation efforts would bring them comfort as they will soon join their families and loved ones,” Bello said.
DOLE also reported that so far, more than 111,400 returning OFWs have been transported to their respective provinces.
The last batch of OFWs to be sent home are 3,035 workers who took their rides in OWWA-arranged buses and other means of transportation on Monday.
So far, the government has brought home a total of 137 OFWs who succumbed to coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) and other causes.
Based on the figures provided by DOLE overseas offices and the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, the last batch includes a total of 57 OFW remains who all died of COVID-19: 30 bodies from Jeddah; 20 bodies from Riyadh; and seven from Al Khobar.
“We will accord our fallen modern-day heroes the same grand welcome and memorial ceremonies due them upon their arrival,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.
The bodies will be flown via chartered cargo flight of the Philippine Airlines.
Bello assured that the homecoming of the remains will follow strict health protocols similar to the two previous batches of repatriation where COVID-19 victims were brought directly to crematoriums upon arrival.
“Our government shares the grief of the bereaved families of our dear OFWs. But we continue to seek their understanding to strictly adhere to the protocols for their own good and that of our communities,” he concluded.
The Department of Energy (DOE) assured that the country has enough power supply to last the rest of the year due to the high amount of power reserve ever since the government implemented community quarantine.
DOE Asec. Redentor Delola there was an average of 30% power demand reduction in Luzon when several areas in the region were put under enhanced community quarantine.
Luzon currently has an actual gross reserve of 3,329 Megawatts (MW). From the available power capacity of 13,356 MW last July 6, the region only had an actual peak demand of 10,335 MW.
Power demand in the Visayas went down by 19%, and 20% in Mindanao.
“Mahalaga po ito to ensure na ang mga pangangailangan, lalong lalo na po sa ating mga tahanan, ay nandyan. Wala po tayong inaasahang problema sa suplay (ng kuryente) (This is important, to ensure that the needs of every household are met. We have no impending problem with our (power) supply),” he said.
However, Delola said the Energy Department continues to coordinate with various agencies to address the power interruptions. He clarified that sufficient power supply does not mean that no power interruptions will be experienced.
“Inaamin po natin na hindi naman natin maiiwasan lahat ng power outages mayroon po talagang hindi kayang pigilan may mga emergency na nangyayari tulad ng may posteng nabangga (We admit we cannot avoid all power outages. There will be emergencies that might happen like vehicles hitting electric posts),” he said. –AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)
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