Nueva Ecija appeals to OWWA for better system on returning OFWs

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 28, 2020   •   829

The Nueva Ecija Provincial Government has appealed to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to have a better system on returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

Atty. OJ Cornejo, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Assessor’s Office, said it has become a challenge for the provincial government to verify if the returning OFWs are negative of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He said the OFWs do not have sufficient documents to prove that they have tested negative for COVID-19.

“Nag-message po ulit sila Sunday night na may uuwing dalawa pero wala pa iyong documents. Hindi pa nila pinapadala so hindi po ma-approve. We need to see po muna iyong negative result ng test and iyong quarantine certificate na nag-undergo na talaga quarantine iyong OFW (They sent a message Sunday night that two OFWs are returning but they have no documents yet. They haven’t sent it yet so it wasn’t approved. We first need to see the negative result of the test and the certificate that they underwent quarantine),” he said.

Nueva Ecija Governor Aurelio Umali said they need a more accurate list from OWWA so that they will be able to implement the proper safety protocols for returning OFWs.

“For instance pupunta pala ng Aurora pero Nueva Ecija ang nakalagay, so importante na makuha natin ang tamang listahan so that ang ating mga mayors, LGUs, will be able to prepare sa ating returning OFWs (For instance, they are going to Aurora but the document says Nueva Ecija. So it’s important for us to get the right list so that our mayors, LGU, will be able to prepare for our returning OFWs),” he said.

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) previously reported that 24,000 OFWs will be returning to the country in the coming days and around 40,000 by next month. AAC (with reports from Danny Munar)

BI rescues underage OFWs from trafficking syndicate

Marje Pelayo   •   April 22, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) has warned the public against syndicates who are engaged in trafficking minors and underage females to work abroad.

BI Commissioner Jaime Morente issued the warning after officers at the international airports in Pampanga and Manila intercepted two overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) that presented falsified travel documents to appear older and be able to work abroad.

The passengers, who both hail from the Southern part of the country, were recruited to work as household helpers in Saudi Arabia.

Both were stopped from leaving by members of the BI’s travel control and enforcement unit (TCEU).

Alias “Ria” was intercepted at the Clark International Airport (CIA) last Thursday while alias “Lea” was rescued at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Friday.

According to Morente, the victims are suspected to have falsified their birthdates to make it appear they meet the age requirements for domestic helpers eligible to work in Saudi Arabia apart from inconsistencies in the answers during interrogation particularly their age.

Both victims were later turned over to the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT) for assistance in filing of complaints against their recruiters.

Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino 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 Saturday, DOLE said.

Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.

So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.

 

AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.

To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.

Quarantine hotels for OFWs now at 85% occupancy rate – OWWA

Marje Pelayo   •   March 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Around 9,500 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stay in quarantine hotels in Metro Manila at present.

According to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, around 1,800 OFWs were allowed to return to their respective hometowns on Monday (March 22).

The official said there were delays in the releasing of COVID-19 swab test results which prolonged their stay in the quarantine facility.

“Nag-stabilize na po ang situwasyon kasi noong mga huling araw lang nagkaroon ng system adjustment or breakdown yung ilang machines ng Red Cross, iyong nagpa-process ng specimen kaya’t may mga naantala sa hotels pero nagno-normalize na po ang situation,” Cacdac said.

At present, the occupancy rate in quarantine hotels is now at 85%.

He said the government’s order to limit international arrivals to 1,500 per day gives them time to release more OFWs from hotels to their hometowns.

Quarantine periods in hotels now last until seven to nine days as compared to the previous duration of one to three days only.

Earlier procedures would have OFWs undergo COVID-19 testing upon arrival. This process, however, had been modified and OFWs have to wait for five days before they could get tested.

Cacdac said that such a change in quarantine procedure caused them to spend more for the accommodation of returning OFWs.

“So na-triple, kuwadruple pa nga ang paglagi nila sa hotel and therefore pati ang gastos. So from mga 10 million (pesos) a day umakyat na sa mga 30 million (pesos) a day ang gastos natin sa hotel,” the official said.

For now, the official said the agency can still provide for the expenses in terms of transportation and accommodation of returning OFWs.

But the agency is still asking the government for a P9,8 billion pesos additional budget given that the available fund of P6.2 billion pesos may be sufficient only until April or May.

OWWA stressed that 50% of returning OFWs at this time are vacationers and whose overseas employments are not affected by the pandemic. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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