By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Ramon Revilla Jr. is seeking a Senate inquiry on the government’s repatriation efforts for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
Revilla on Tuesday said he filed Senate Resolution 448 which calls on the Senate Committees on Labor and Foreign Affairs to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the “loopholes” in the repatriation plans of concerned government agencies in anticipation of the influx of displaced OFWs, especially those stranded in different parts of the world since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a pressing need to accelerate and expedite the repatriation process and maximize all available resources and systems to bring home all the stranded OFWs abroad,” Revilla said.
“The repatriation process must be systematic and holistic that it will bring the OFWs right in front of the doorsteps of their homes without undue delay and unnecessary difficulties,” he added.
Revilla said he hopes the inquiry will help in the effective and expeditious implementation of the government’s repatriation efforts.
“The anguish of waiting, the torment of being away from their families, the financial and employment anxieties, the uncertainty of events and of the future, among many other considerations, affect their health not only physically but also mentally and emotionally,” he pointed out.
Defense Secretary and National Task Force on COVID-19 chairman Delfin Lorenzana had earlier announced that repatriated Filipinos shall be sent home not later than five days after their arrival in the country as the government has enough testing facilities to accommodate them.
To speed up the repatriation, international airports outside of Metro Manila will be reopened to receive the OFWs.
But Revilla said the effectiveness and actual implementation of this strategy, to avoid overcrowding in quarantine centers in Metro Manila, are yet to be seen.
The government said 44,724 OFWs are expected to return to the country this month.
According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), around 200,000 are expected to be repatriated in June until August.
A total of 341,161 OFWs lost their jobs due to the pandemic, the DOLE reported.
On Sunday, Senator Joel Villanueva, Labor Committee chairman, expressed his plan to look into the government’s response programs for returning OFWs.