Nearly 250,000 overseas Filipino workers who have returned to the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic have been transported back to their respective provinces, the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) said Sunday, Oct. 11.
In a report, the DoLE said as of October 11, the number of OFWs sent to their home regions is at 248,469.
The latest batch consisting of 2,458 OFWs returned home on Oct. 10.
The government started transporting OFWs en masse in May after COVID tests and quarantine.
The breakdown of the OFWs returned home are as follows: May 15- 24 (8,922); May 25-31 (25,002); June 1-7(8,902); June 8-14 (7,279); June 15-21(6,782); June 22-28 (10,231); June 29-July 5 (9,113); July 6-12 (10,163); July 13-19 (10,501); July 20-26 (11,546); July 27-August 2 (11,630) Aug 3-Aug 9 (11,384); Aug 10-Aug 16 (17,085); Aug 17-23 (14,968); Aug 24-30 (10,964); Aug 31-September 6 (12,945); Sept 7-13 (14,014); Sept 14-20 (11,792); Sept 21-27 (11,512); Sept 28-October 4 (12,413); Oct. 5 (2,319); Oct 6 (1,715); Oct 7 (1,424); Oct 8 (1,579); Oct 9 (1,426); and Oct 10 (2,458).
The OFW returnees were provided with accommodations, food, transportation, and COVID testing upon their arrival in the country.
To help OFWs financially, DOLE has also been extending a one-time P10,000 or $200 cash aid under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program, designed for those whose incomes were affected by the pandemic, both on-site and those stranded in the country.
In September, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said more OFWs will benefit from the AKAP program following President Rodrigo Duterte’s signing of the Bayanihan to Recover as One or Bayanihan 2 law.
The labor chief said there are alternative overseas job markets for displaced OFWs, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has resumed accepting and processing work visas; Qatar, which has abolished the ‘kafala’ system that requires migrant workers to get permission from their employers should they decide to change jobs; and the Kingdom of Bahrain, which has renewed the recruitment of household service workers.
Other job markets available for Filipino workers, he added, are in China, Japan, the Czech Republic, and Taiwan.