OFWs affected by COVID-19 reach nearly 350,000
Nearly 350 thousand OFWs affected by COVID-19
MANILA – Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III today said343,551 OFWs have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In a midday briefing at Malacanang, Secretary Bello said the affected workers are either displaced because of the pandemic or those who contracted the disease.
He added 341,161 were displaced while 2,390 were afflicted by the novel coronavirus while 72 died. The top Labor executive said there were 678 who recovered while 1,646 were classified as active cases.
“In an earlier press briefing, I said we were expecting 42,000 OFWs were scheduled to return home from last month until the end of June. However, only 16,779 will return,” he said. He explained the majority failed to complete their travel documents including the exit permits known as iqama, failure to get clearances from employers and failure to buy plane tickets.
During the same briefing, Secretary Bello said he will talk with Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade to prevent the refusal of bus operators from bringing returning and quarantined OFWs to their respective home provinces. He said several bus operators have been selective of passengers they will bring home to their provinces.
Responding to questions from the media, Secretary Bello said from the total of 341,000 displaced OFWs, only 95,000 plus have been considered “stranded” in several countries. He explained about 200,000 Filipinos would not want to return to the Philippines and would rather stay in the Americas, Europe, including Rome, Madrid, United Kingdom.
“So, anyway, that makes our work lighter, kasi we are left with only 95,000 stranded, with only 42,000 up for repatriation. However, we can only repatriate 16,000,” Secretary Bello added.
On the domestic front, Secretary Bello said the government will subsidize the salaries private companies extend to their workers from 25 – 50% if the salaries extended to their employees on condition they will not dismiss any of their employees. (Melo M. Acuña)
Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III (Screen shot from Malacanang Briefing, June 2,2020)