House seeking ways to repatriate more OFWs

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

The House leadership is seeking to find ways to secure more flights to repatriate all stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), including those in the Middle East and Europe.

House Majority Leader and Leyte 1st district Rep. Martin Romualdez said the Lower Chamber, led by Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano is eyeing to lobby for more flights to address the concerns of tens of thousands of stranded OFWs.

Overseas Filipino workers who were quarantined for weeks after returning home wait for flights back to their home cities around the country, at Manila's international airport on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Overseas Filipino workers who were quarantined for weeks after returning home wait for flights back to their home cities around the country, at Manila’s international airport on May 28, 2020. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

He expressed all-out support to the directive of Cayetano to the House Committee on Public Accounts, chaired by Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Michael Defensor to conduct an inquiry into the plight of OFWs on Friday, June 26.

“We empathize with the plight of thousands of stranded OFWs who are unemployed for months,” Romualdez said.

He said more flights should be made available to repatriate all distressed OFWs as soon as possible.

“Immediately, we need to have more flights to accommodate our returning OFWs and ensure that health protocols are strictly observed for their safe travels,” the House leader said.

Defensor bared on Wednesday that his panel will look into the government’s migration policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that there is a “comprehensive and wholistic approach” in addressing the plight of the OFWs.

“Consistent with the directive of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano in the case of the social amelioration program, we want to look into the problems plaguing the repatriation of our workers overseas, who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and find solutions,” Defensor said.

“We want the living as well as the dead repatriated as soon as possible. They have been stranded abroad for months,” he said.

The Defensor panel will conduct a hybrid probe wherein some lawmakers and resource persons are expected to attend the meeting in the session hall, while others are present via Zoom Video Conference platform.

Defensor said among those invited to their hybrid meeting are Secretary Silvestre Bello III of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Leo Cacdac, National Reintegration Center for OFWs Officer-in-Charge Director Roel Martin, and Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Administrator Bernard Olalia.

He said representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs, including two Ambassadors are also expected to join the meeting.

The DFA’s team include DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola, Ambassador Adnan Alonto of the Philippine Embassy in Saudi Arabia, and Ambassador Hjayceelyn Quintana of the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Defensor noted four OFWs, including a nurse assistant in Riyadh, and a Human Resources director in Dusit Thani Hotel in Dubai, have also been invited to their meeting so that the panel could get a grasp of the real situation on the ground.

He said his panel also requested National Task Force on coronavirus disease (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. and deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon to participate in their meeting.

 
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