DFA to bring home another 117,000 OFWs
The government has so far repatriated 50,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and is set to repatriate the remaining 117,000, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Sarah Lou Arriola, Undersecretary for migrant workers affairs of the DFA, told the House public accounts committee headed by Rep. Mike Defensor that they can carry out the repatriation “with the assistance of other government agencies.”
At the same time, she also announced that there will be two consecutive Philippine Airlines flights to Qatar this month – on July 17 and 19 – to ferry OFWs with confirmed PAL tickets. The latter flight will be a chartered one.
“We’re also working on another chartered flight before the end of the month,” Arriola told Defensor and vice-chairman Rep. Jonathan Sy-Alvarado, whose committee has been conducting a probe on the repatriation of thousands of stranded OFWs.
The DFA official said each PAL plane can carry about 350 passengers.
Arriola also disclosed that Vietnam has finally allowed PAL to fetch about 80 stranded OFWs in Vietnam on July 25. “That is the final date. And yes, they’re coming home very soon,” she told the lawmakers.
At the first committee hearing on the issue two weeks ago, labor and foreign affairs officials promised to repatriate more workers, then numbering 167,000, including 88,000 in Saudi Arabia.
The officials blamed their failure to bring in more workers on the daily limit of 1,000 workers set by the inter-agency task force (IATF) on COVID-19 response.
“They committed to bring this problem to the attention of IATF and to arrange for more repatriation flights. Since the IATF has relaxed travel restrictions, it should allow more inbound planes – whether commercial or charter – bringing in stranded OFWs,” he said.
Those to be flown home include more than 300 who died in Saudi Arabia.
“We should bring our modern-day heroes home – both the living and the dead – as soon as possible to be reunited with their families,” Defensor said.
He said his committee has been told that at least 16,000 stranded OFWs already had their plane tickets and exit permits from their employers and host countries.
He pointed out that once the go-signal is given, the 16,000 workers would be home in days “at no cost to the government.”
Of the 16,000, 8,000 are in Saudi Arabia, up to 4,000 in the United Arab Emirates and another 4,000 in Qatar.
Defensor said it is the consensus among members and officials of the House led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to appeal to the IATF and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines to lift restrictions on repatriation flights and to arrange for additional transportation for the stranded OFWs.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) castigated a local official of Quezon City over his remarks of a "shoot to kill" for violators of quarantine protocols. In a statement, DILG spokesperson, Undersecretary Jonathan M...
The government has ordered private and public hospitals to increase the number of beds allocated for coronavirus patients as the number of cases continued to increase in recent weeks, reaching more than 85,000 by the end of July. The Inter-Agency Ta...
Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa ordered an evaluation of health workers within the PNP, but ruled out calling for a timeout similar to the appeal made by medical frontliners as the country grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic. Med...
CIS Bayad Center Inc. aims to increase the number of its branches and online platforms. CIS Bayad Center Inc. said it plans to open more than 200 sites for both the franchisees and local corporate partners under the leadership of its new presi...
Pasig City closed down an electronic bingo (e-bingo) outlet found operating during the general community quarantine (GCQ). “Closed. E-bingo na nagbukas habang GCQ. Alam naman nilang bawal. Langya may pa safety reminders pa sa entrance (E-bingo...