By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora | PNA
MANILA – A total of 14,706 Filipinos abroad returned to the Philippines since the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported Thursday.
Of this number, 3,127 are land-based overseas Filipinos workers (OFWs) while 11,579 are seafarers from 70 cruise ships.
The repatriation of the seafarers was shouldered by their respective manning agencies while the return of the land-based workers was led by the DFA.
In a virtual briefing, DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said the agency will continue repatriating distressed workers abroad.
At present, several sweeper flights and mercy flights are being mounted, she added.
“Tuloy-tuloy po ang pagpa-pauwi natin, huwag pong panghinaan ang iba because we will bring them home (Our repatriation efforts continue, rest assured that we will bring them home),” she said.
For OFWs displaced due to the pandemic, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is also providing a one-time USD200 cash aid.
Based on DOLE order no. 212, OFWs from countries with Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) and are heavily affected by COVID-19 will be given priority.
“Sa kagandahang loob po ni Secretary Bello pumayag po sila (na) doon po sa mga walang POLO, makikipag-ugnayan ang embahada at consulates sa kanila kung paano mabibigyan ng USD200 (Through Secretary Silvestre Bello III, they agreed that those in countries with no POLO, the DOLE will coordinate with the embassies and consulates on how to release the USD200),” she said.
The said assistance covers documented OFWs and “qualified undocumented OFWs” who were originally documented workers but for some reason lost their regular status.