By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and other agencies like the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will continue to facilitate the repatriation of hundreds of overseas Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic even during this Holy Week.
“During this extraordinary time, the DFA will never tire working with other government agencies and the private sector in this ‘whole of government’ approach to facilitate seamless repatriations of our kababayans overseas,” the foreign affairs office said in a statement posted on its official Twitter account.
On Wednesday, 247 Filipino seafarers from two Bahamas-registered cruise ships – M/S Amera and M/S Amadea – arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from Frankfurt, Germany.
It was preceded by the return of more than 1,400 seafarers from eight sea vessels on Tuesday, including the 600 undocumented Filipinos from Kuwait who availed of the amnesty program by the Gulf state.
From April 3 to 7, a total of 1,500 OFWs from Kuwait have returned in five batches, according to a report made by OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
The DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA) reported on Monday that 6,700 distressed OFWs have been repatriated so far since the start of the pandemic.
Aside from facilitating the repatriation of OFWs, the DFA is also monitoring daily the number of COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad through its consulates and embassies worldwide.
As of 5:30 p.m. of April 7, 2020, the total number of Filipinos abroad with confirmed COVID-19 cases is placed at 569 with 65 deaths, 346 are undergoing treatment, and 158 have recovered or were discharged from various hospitals.