Over 71,700 overseas Filipino workers expected to be displaced by pandemic

DFA resumes repatriation efforts, welcomes home 299 OFWs from the United Kingdom. I DFA-OUMWA Photo

Around 45,000 overseas Filipinos are expected to return home to the Philippines over the next two months, following the over 20,000 who have been repatriated since the coronavirus outbreak, according to a new report.

As the coronavirus continues to affect industries globally, including tourism and hospitality, the Philippines is anticipating Filipino workers coming back to the country in May and June, Bloomberg News reported.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administrator Hans Cacdac said Filipinos working abroad in cruise ships, hotels, restaurants and retail establishments have been hit the hardest by the pandemic. He added that the construction sector is starting to report some job losses as well.

The agency is asking for $50 million (P2.5 billion) in additional funding from Congress since it has been shouldering the temporary shelter, food and transport of displaced overseas workers, who are required to undergo COVID-19 testing and the obligatory 14-day quarantine.

“We need to preserve our budget for reintegration, reskilling and livelihood programs for the post-lockdown scenario,” Cacdac told Bloomberg News.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday, May 11 resumed its repatriation efforts, welcoming home 299 Filipino crew members of the MV Azura from London, United Kingdom.

The agency has repatriated a total of 24,422 overseas Filipinos — of which 16,936 are sea-based, and 7,486 are land-based.

“Why should we allow 400 to 800 Filipinos or even 3,000 to return home every day? Because they have the constitutional, absolute and total right to come home that no power can suspend, slow down or, in any way, restrict,” said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

“Government has only one power: To bring them home,” he added.

The DFA has brought home “tens of thousands of overseas Filipino workers the instant they became jobless,” the secretary said.

“It’s strained our quarantine and testing capacities back home, but I don’t care [that it did because] I won’t leave our people to die in deserts. Period,” Locsin added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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