The Philippine government has been putting all their efforts in facilitating the return of our fellow kabayans. As of June 7, 2020, about 55,859 OFWs arrived in the country since the onset of the coronavirus outbreak. Within the tally, 17,419 are land-based, while 38,440 are sea-based OFWs.
According to the Department of Health’s (DOH) COVID-19 Situationer No. 41, 1,376 of our repatriated kabayans, unfortunately, contracted the coronavirus disease. For June 8, 2020, about 623 Filipino workers are receiving medical treatment while one died, and 267 have recovered. On the same day, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) reported that they transported 42,298 OFWs to their respective homes after completing their institutional 14-day quarantine protocol.
To support the arrival of the repatriated OFWs, the airports of the Philippines reopened, such as the Clark International Airport. For the processing of the PCR tests of the arriving OFWs, the manning and recruitment agencies are free to choose their preferred laboratory. The freedom to choose their COVID-19 testing establishments will allow competition between them to effectively speed up their tests and reduce their costs, according to the Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
In May, one of the causes, why many OFWs became stranded in Manila, is the release of the certificate from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ). However, the Philippine government solved this problem as the BOQ launched an online platform to process the quarantine certificates of the OFWs. These quarantine certificates are for those repatriated individuals who completed their 14-day quarantine. They can log-in by clicking here. Through this link, they can request a copy of their BOQ Quarantine Certificate as their respective proof being COVID-19 free.
Because a lot of OFWs have returned home, another problem arises amidst the COVID-19 outbreak. The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) prepared many alternative sources to support their livelihood. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t stop, employment for the OFWs will be tough to achieve and return.
Assistance of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO)
As a humanitarian response, the Acting National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) Director Roel Martin affirmed that the Philippine government is implementing reintegration programs for the OFWs, whether documented or undocumented. The NRCO established a 30-million budget, which will be used for the programs of the undocumented OFWs this year.
Digging into its details, the NRCO will primarily assist the livelihood of 3,000 undocumented OFWs who returned this year due to the ongoing health crisis. However, they pursue to help many affected OFWs as possible.
Financial Assistance of Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program
Another program for OFW assistance is the Balik Pinas! Balik Hanapbuhay! Program. The OWWA will provide immediate relief to the OFW members amounting to Php 20,000.00 for their respective capital in their livelihood project. For further details, click here.
According to Director Martin, the NRCO will distribute Php 10,000 to the undocumented OFWs. From this, they can choose different kinds of businesses they want to start. The NRCO is also prepared to conduct the necessary training. After the training, the financial grant will be given to the OFWs.
Retooling of One’s Skills
If the world of business is not their type, then the OFWs can opt-in upgrading their skills in the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA). Through the available training in TESDA, they can temporarily work within their localities as they await the availability of employment for OFWs.
It is everyone’s relief that many of our Kabayans managed to return home in this health crisis. However, it also resulted in an increased rate of unemployment. In this time, we should unite our hands and help our OFWs in sustaining their livelihood while the threat of coronavirus disease exists.
If you are one of the OFWs who will be returning home soon, I pray for your safety in your travel. May God bless you as you seek the comfort of home in your respective provinces.
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