The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said it is ready to repatriate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
“Lahat ng ating mga kababayan na nasa abroad kung kinakailangan, iuuwi sila. Repatriation nila, sagot po ‘yan ng programa ng DOLE. ‘Yan po nakasama na sa PHP1.5 billion budget, kasi maliban sa cash assistance na (All of our kababayans abroad, if needed, we will repatriate them. Their repatriation will be shouldered by DOLE’s program. That is covered by the PHP1.5 billion budget, aside from the cash assistance amounting to) USD200 per OFW displaced because of Covid-19, we also take responsibility of repatriating them,” he said in a phone interview during a Laging Handa briefing.
He added that Filipinos who are having their vacation in the country and were stranded because of the enhanced community quarantine implemented all over Luzon, are also entitled to get the cash aid.
Bello also said it is unlikely for OFWs to lose their jobs just because they were not able to return to their work abroad as they are among workers who are most preferred by employers.
“‘Yung pagbabalik nila halimbawa wala nang (For instance, when they return to work once there is no) Covid-19, sa tingin ko hindi problema ‘yan kasi itong mga OFW natin ito ‘yung (that won’t be a problem because our OFWs are) preferred (and) treasured workers abroad. Hinihintay lang sila ng employer nila (Their employers are just waiting for them) except of course, the fact na nandito sila, may Covid-19, hindi muna natin pababalikin. Kaya palagay ko hindi masyadong malaking problema ‘yan (that they are here and there is Covid-19 threat, we won’t allow them to return for now. So I think, it won’t be a big problem),” he said.
He also thanked President Rodrigo Duterte for approving the PHP1.5-billion additional budget for the DOLE’s cash assistance program for local and overseas workers.
“By Monday (April 13), we will remit this amount to our offices abroad where there are OFWs so they can get the more than USD200 cash assistance (PHP10,000) per overseas worker who were displaced by reason of Covid-19,” he said in Filipino.
Bello also reported that as of Friday, the agency has released over PHP839 million to 167,941 formal workers under the Covid Adjustment Measures Program (CAMP).
Affected workers are provided a one-time cash assistance of PHP5,000.
On the other hand, some 118,086 informal workers have benefited from the Php206 million cash aid under Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD)-Barangay ko, Bahay Ko (BKBK) program.
Beneficiaries are given temporary jobs for 10 days in their barangays. Their compensation will be based on the prevailing minimum wage per region. (PNA)