Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday said he will not be surprised if the number of overseas Filipino workers that will be repatriated back in the country will still increase amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In our record, the number of OFWs we repatriate on a daily basis is a minimum of 1,000 and a maximum of 3,000. It’s that many,” he said during the DoLE’s online forum Wednesday.
“In fact, right now our latest figure is we have repatriated 205,000 since May,”added Bello.
“I will not be surprised if we will have another 100,000,” he said.
When asked what are their plans for these OFWs, Bello said their focus is to look for alternative markets for them.
“There is a good prospect in China. The eastern European countries are eager to enter into a labor agreement with us. In fact, in Canada alone in Yukon province there’s already a ready bilateral (agreement) for signing…Even Taiwan came up with another proposed bilateral labor agreement,” he said.
According to Bello, finding an alternative work placement for these OFWs wont be difficult as Filipino workers are preferred by most employers abroad such as in Bahrain.
“Just recently you must have heard that Bahrain lifted the ban of foreign workers only with respect to the Philippines to the exclusion of other foreign countries. That’s how preferred our workers are,” he said.
Bello said there’s also a demand for our medical workers abroad.
But, he said, they also have to make sure that Filipino workers will not be deployed in areas where there are many incidents of COVID contamination.
“Now if we are unable to find alternative work placement (foe them) we also have livelihood programs,” said Bello.