MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government has brought home around 564,000 overseas Filipino workers amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Thursday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said around 130,000 OFWs, whose jobs were affected by the public health crisis, remain in their host countries, but up to 80,000 of them have refused to return to the Philippines.
“They opted to stay, especially those in Europe, and that’s very understandable kasi alam mo naman sa Europe ‘yung kanilang insurance benefits umaabot ng 1 to 1/2 years kaya kampante sila,” Bello said at a Palace press briefing.
“Pero meron pa naman tayong mga around siguro umaabot pa ng mga 50,000 na kababayan na naghihintay ng repatriation,” he added.
The labor chief said up to 1,500 Filipinos are being repatriated daily but it could have gone up to 2,000 to 3,000 if not for the Inter-Agency Task Force’s resolution setting a cap on inbound international passengers at 1,500 per day.
“Kaya ganoon kahirap trabaho ng OWWA at ganoon kapuno ang ating mga hotels as the facilities of our OFWs,” he said.
Bello, meanwhile, assured that Filipino seafarers, particularly those who recovered from COVID-19, would still be able to get employed again.
“It’s high time that we Filipinos realized na ‘yung ating Filipino seafarers are the most preferred seafarers in the world. Hinahabol ‘yung ating mga seafarers kaya ‘yung kanilang chance for re-employment ay napakataas,” he said.
He also expressed confidence that proposals to inoculate OFWs with single-dose COVID-19 vaccine would help speed up the deployment of Filipino migrant workers.
“I thank (vaccine czar) Secretary (Carlito) Galvez for thinking of a process na ang ating mga OFW ay one dosage na lang sila and that will facilitate the deployment of our OFWs especially seafarers,” he said.