MANILA – The government has so far repatriated a total of 519,566 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) back to their hometowns.
In a televised meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said this is out of a total of 647,827 documented OFWs who were displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Out of the 3,497,261 (documented OFWs), 19 percent were displaced because of Covid-19, 19 percent, that is about 647,827. They were displaced. Meaning, they lost their job or even if they did not lose their job, they could not earn a living because they were prevented from reporting to work because of Covid-19, they cannot report to work,” Bello told the President.
He added that out of the remaining total number of displaced OFWs, around 49,000 are still in the process of repatriation while over 79,000 have opted to stay in their host countries.
“They don’t want to go home, because many of them, Mr. President, got vaccinated, particularly in the Middle East. So with their vaccination, the opportunity for reemployment was very high, so they opted to stay,” Bello added.
Bello said among those who opted not to go home are OFWs in Europe, particularly in Italy, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain.
He also reported that over 10,000 OFWs who contracted Covid-19 have already recovered while 950 died.
On the other hand, over 500,000 OFWs have benefited from the Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program, one-time cash assistance of PHP10,000 (US$200).
“I would just want to mention that under Bayanihan 1, Mr. President, we were able to provide assistance under the AKAP program to 343,743 OFWs and it costs us PHP3,499,000,000. Now, under Bayanihan 2, Mr. President, we were able to provide assistance to 161,812 and it costs us PHP1,629,000,000 or a total of PHP5,128,000,000,” Bello said.
He added that so far, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has spent a total of PHP11,466,874,371 for the repatriation of OFWs.
Included in the program are expenses for transport, quarantine accommodation, food, and financial assistance.
He also reported that as of 2020, 8,875,472 Filipinos are living and working overseas.
“Out of this, Mr. President, we have 3,497,261 who are documented while the undocumented, we have about 1,580,684. Then we have the so-called permanent migrants, these are those who have no plans of going back home. They are about 3,797,527,” he added. Ferdinand Patinio / PNA – northboundasia.com