4,000 OFW-nurses repatriated due to COVID, but a good chunk of them wants to work here

Published May 12, 2021, 3:27 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

An estimated 30 percent of the Filipino nurses who were displaced from their jobs abroad as a result of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are willing to work in the Philippines temporarily.

(Screengrab from DOLE Facebook live)

Marianito Roque, former Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) secretary, made this announcement on behalf of incumbent Secretary Silvestre Bello III during a virtual press briefing Wednesday, May 12.

“We discovered na we have over 4,000 nurses na pala na nakauwi rito sa Pilipinas since last year nung nagsimula yung pandemic (We discovered that we have already repatriated 4,000 nurses to the Philippines since the start of the pandemic last year),” he bared.

Roque said that of the 257 returning nurses based in the National Capital Region (NCR), “We found out…there are 70 who are willing to work here locally, temporarily.”

He said DOLE gathered the figures through its OFW Assistance Information System or OASIS. The database is being used to help the repatriated Filipinos gain domestic employment.

“By mere analysis, tinignan namin, initially parang mga 30 percent ng umuwing nurses are willing to work (we looked at the numbers and initially, we think that 30 percent of the nurses who came back home are willing to work here),” he noted.

“This could be the answer doon sa shortages ng nurses natin ngayon (This could be the answer to the current shortage of our nurses),” the former labor chief said.

“Ang sitwasyon is that sinasabi ng mga ospital natin na limited ang capacity nila lalo sa COVID ward because walang nurses na nag apply (The situation according to the hospitals is that they have limited capacity, especially at COVID wards because they aren’t getting any nurse-applicants).”

DOLE has already tapped the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), and DOLE-Bureau of Local Employment (BLE) to work out a structure for local job placement as far as the repatriated nurses are concerned, Roque said.

“Mabilisan ang gusto ni Secretary Bello. By next week baka mayroon na tayong structure how this will be done (Secretary Bello wants to work this out fast. Maybe by next week we will already have a structure on how this will be done),” he further said.

Over 500,000 Filipino workers abroad have been forced to come home since the emergence of COVID-19 last year.

As per OASIS, some 1,000 OFW-welders have also been repatriated. There are also a lot of displaced construction workers, engineers, and cruise line service crew who have opted to return to the Philippines.

But the vast majority of the returnees are household service workers, Roque said.