By Charissa Luci-Atienza
House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that the Lower Chamber will flex its muscles to ensure the continuity of “on wheels” consular outreach service, especially in countries with high numbers of COVID-19 infections.
He made the assurance after the supposed cancellation or the delivery of limited consular services was brought to his attention last Saturday (June 13).
“Pinaabot sa akin ang pagca-cancel o paglilimit sa ibang mga serbisyo on wheels o paglapit ng embahada sa OFWs (The cancellation or the limiting of somes services on wheels or the embassy outreach service to the OFWs was brought to my attention). Huwag po kayong magalala (Don’t worry), isa sa agenda natin week sa (one of our agenda this week with the) DBM (Department of Budget and Management) para i-check kung ano ang maibabalik na mga pondo (is to check which funds should be returned) para hindi tamaan ang serbisyo sa mga OFWs (so that the services for the OFWs will not be affected) lalo na po sa (especially in) Russia, U.S., sa (in) UK, sa (in) Brazil o sa areas na high pa ang infection rate (or in areas with high infection rate) at medyo high-risk pa (and high-risk areas),” Cayetano said in a Facebook Live post.
“Mas mabuti talaga na kayo ang nilalapitan kaysa kayo ang bi-byahe (It is better that the service go to you rather than you travel),” he said.
Cayetano, who served as secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), took the opportunity to thank the ambassadors and consuls for constantly keeping in touch with the OFWs in their respective jurisdictions.
“Salamat sa ating mga ambassadors at consuls na ginagawan ninyo ng paraan through social media din (Thanks to all ambassadors and consuls who are finding ways through social media), you’re keeping in touch and informing our kababayan (compatriots),” he said.
According to the DFA, as of June 14, there are 5,541 confirmed COVID-19 cases among Filipinos abroad. There are 2,641 Filipinos abroad who are undergoing treatment, and 409 who succumbed to COVID-19, it said.
The DFA said it has facilitated the repatriation of 41,867 Filipino nationals, including over 24,000 seafarers and over 17,500 land-based OFWs.