Salceda urges gov’t to prepare for return of OFWs displaced by global recession

Published April 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda, chairman of the House committee on ways and means, called on government to prepare for the return of at least 420,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), saying that welfare support should be prepared and mandatory COVID-19 testing be conducted to prevent a second wave of infection.

Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)
Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The Albay lawmaker said the return of the OFWs is expected in the months during or immediately after the peak of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Salceda explained that one of the most major negative impacts of the coronavirus crisis that could persist and inflict structural damage on the economy is the loss of income and aggregate demand, and loss of remittances of almost $5-billion per year.

“That may take two to three years before we can restore it to normal levels. We’re highly exposed because some of our best-paid OFWs are sea-based, and that relies on tourism and global trade, which would suffer lingering effects within the next 24 to 36 months,” the senior administration official said.

According to him, “consensus estimates” indicate that some 230,000 to 250,000 OFWs will be displaced as a result of the pandemic.

“We did a value chain analysis and we find that that is in fact a net number. Sa value chain analysis po namin ng major economies and sectors where there are OFWs, we found that up to 420,000 may come home [to] the Philippines at some point within the next six months, with 170 to 180 thousand of them coming home because of temporary circumstances,” he said.

The overseas workforce of the country will be “exposed to what the International Monetary Fund has now declared to be a global recession.”

Salceda also said that aside from preparing to support the displaced OFWs, the government must impose mandatory COVID-19 tests once they return to the Philippines.

“If we cannot test them, that is potentially a massive wave of vectors that, if they infect others, could overwhelm the health care system. So they will need to be tested and isolated,” Salceda said.