MANILA – Over 200,000 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) had been transported back to their home provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Thursday.
Citing report of Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the government has assisted 218,205 OFWs since May.
The OFWs were repatriated after losing jobs due to the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
According to OWWA, the latest batch of 1,440 OFWs was transported to their respective provinces after testing negative for Covid-19.
Aside from Covid-19 test, the government provided accommodation, food, and transportation going back to their home provinces upon their arrival in the country.
The DOLE has also been extending a one-time USD200 (PHP10,000) cash aid under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program to OFWs whose incomes were affected by the pandemic, both on-site and those stranded in the country.
Bello said more OFWs will benefit from the AKAP program following President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of Bayanihan to Recover as One or Bayanihan 2 law.
Meanwhile, Bello said there are alternative overseas job markets for displaced OFWs particularly in the Middle East.
“In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has resumed accepting and processing work visas; Qatar, which has abolished the ‘kafala’ system that requires migrant workers to get permission from their employers should they decide to change jobs; and the Kingdom of Bahrain, which has renewed the recruitment of household service workers,” he said in a statement.
He added that job markets available for Filipino workers are China, Japan, Czech Republic, and Taiwan. (DOLE PR)