Nearly half a million overseas Filipino workers have returned to the country since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, an official from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said Thursday.
“As of today, we are approaching the 480,000-mark, we’re approaching half a million OFWs who have returned, transported to their respective home regions,” OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac told the Senators during a Senate labor committee hearing.
The figure covers those who were repatriated through the Department of Labor and Employment or the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and those who took commercial flights back to the Philippines.
Meanwhile, the DFA has facilitated the repatriation of 390,917 Filipinos, according to DFA Assistant Secretary Enrico Fos.
Fos said 287,252 OFWs repatriated by DFA are land-based workers, mostly from the Middle East while the rest are sea-based workers.
Cacdac added that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced OFWs which include free swab testing, food and accommodation, and transportation to their home regions.
“Upon orders of the President, swab testing or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing of arriving OFW is free, the quarantine hotel facility including food is also free and also the transportation to their home regions,” he said.
When asked about the estimate on the number of OFWs that will return in the country, Cacdac said it will depend on the extent and the efficacy of the vaccination program of countries worldwide.
“It’s difficult to say since the situation right now is fluid because of the vaccine. That will depend on the extent and the efficacy of the vaccination program of countries worldwide, so I want to say 80,000 to 100,000 in the course of the year but I think that is dependent on how the vaccination program of the whole world. The computation for this year will change because of the vaccination phenomenon,” he said.