Villanueva urges aid for Cebu-bound OFWs after diversion of flights to Manila

Published May 28, 2021, 4:14 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday, May 28, appealed to the government to provide assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and travelers bound for Cebu.

Senator Joel Villanueva speaks during a Senate hearing on February 24, 2020. (Senate PRIB/Henzberg Austria)

The chairman of the Senate labor committee issued the call after the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) decided to temporarily to divert flights to the province to Manila in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus.

He said the IATF should “mobilize all resources to ease the pain” of OFWs and other travelers whose flights from abroad will be affected.

“The massive inconvenience this will cause must be addressed by the government,” Villanueva said in a statement.

The senator specifically mentioned the additional expenses of OFWs that will incur from “this travel disruption not of their own making”, saying it should be shouldered by the government.

“Marami pong OFWs na walang dalang pera lalo na po ‘yong mga natanggal sa trabaho dahil sa pandemya. Said na said na dahil sa tagal nang pagka-stranded sa abroad. Saan po sila dudukot ng panggastos para sa rebooking (Many OFWs do not have enough money to bring, especially those who lost their jobs during the pandemic. They almost have nothing left due to being stranded abroad for too long. Where willl they get the money for rebooking flights)?” he asked.

“Kung utang na lang ang pasalubong, kawawa naman kung dadagdagan mo pa ang kanilang bayarin (If they borrowed money just to bring something home for their families, what a pity if we add up to their expenses),” he lamented.

On the advice of the IATF, Malacañang has ordered all international flights bound for the Mactan Cebu International Airport to be redirected to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from May 29 to June 5, 2021.

“Although it will only last for a week, it will surely set off a domino effect of inconveniences to be felt by all parties, from passengers to carriers, to government agencies who must be ready with room accommodations and other contingencies,” Villanueva said.

“This will still give added burden to the government’s reception system,” he added.

He urged the government to charter “reliever” flights for affected OFWs bound for the Visayas and Mindanao.