More than 500K pandemic-hit OFWs sent home

The government has repatriated more than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced by the Covid 19 pandemic, the labor department said on Sunday.

In a report to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Hans Leo Cacdac said 502,581 OFW repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing Covid-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Black Saturday.

A separate report of the Department of Labor and Employment’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (DOLE-ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic, 627,576 of whom were displaced.

ILAB Director Alice Visperas said 49,698 of those displaced OFWs had requested for repatriation while 75,297 stayed on site.

ILAB records also indicated increasing number of OFWs infected with the disease.

As of Sunday, it recorded 17,495 confirmed Covid cases among OFWs based on reports submitted by 40 Philippine Overseas Labor Offices worldwide.

Of the total, 10,155 recovered and 938 died.

The Department of Foreign Affairs data on Sunday showed a slight difference in numbers – 10,406 total cases; 10,060 recoveries/discharged; and 1,049 deaths.

Bello said the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected OFWs.

“Our government will not renege on its commitment to provide the needed assistance to our OFWs. We will continue to assist them for as long as it takes,” Bello said.

So far, DOLE’s AKAP (Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong) assistance has extended PHP5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs, he said.

AKAP is a one-time cash assistance of $200 or PHP10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial, food and medical aid to Covid-infected OFWs. To date, it has released $1.93 million in cash to 9,667 OFW patients.

Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs. (PR)

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