1 million OFWs seen to be displaced until end of 2021— Labor dep’t

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — A little more than one million overseas Filipino workers are projected to be displaced until December of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alice Visperas, director of the Department of Labor’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (DOLE-ILAB), said that a total of 323,537 OFWs have lost their jobs from February to May of 2020 alone, and 1,005,031 OFWs are estimated to be displaced until the end of next year.

Majority of the OFWs that are seen to be displaced are located in the Middle East according to the DOLE-ILAB projection, followed by Europe and Americas, then Asia.

“Sa kasalukuyan, mayroon tayong mga ginagawa para sa mga displaced COVID-infected OFWs,” said Visperas.

[Translation: We are currently doing something for the displaced COVID-infected OFWs]

OFWs that are infected by the coronavirus disease are entitled to receive $200 or ₱10,000 from the Labor Department, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

DOLE also has its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) Program which extends cash assistance to displaced OFWs due to the current global health pandemic.

Each beneficiary of the AKAP Program will also receive ₱10,000, said Visperas in a House hearing on overseas workers affairs on Friday.

Programs for displaced OFWs

The DOLE-ILAB has mentioned a couple of reintegration programs for Filipino workers displaced by COVID-19.

First is skills training, development, and reintegration preparedness.

“Nakikita po natin na dahil sa COVID, maraming companies ang magsasara, marami pong mga work sites ang mag paprioritize ng kanilang mga citizens para sa mga trabaho,” said Visperas.

[Translation: We see that because of COVID-19, many companies will close, and many work sites will prioritize their citizens as employees.]

The DOLE-ILAB director stressed the need for Filipino workers to be trained and equipped in order to “sustain their preferential employability in essential industries in different countries of destination.”

Visperas added that DOLE will continue to monitor the status and condition of OFWs abroad, and they will make sure to help in the reemployment of those who are still possible to be absorbed back to their jobs.

Lifting of temporary ban

A nurses group calls for the lifting of the temporary ban on healthcare workers in the same House hearing, raising concerns on nurses losing their contracts abroad due to the inability to fly out of the country.

Filipino Nurses United President Maristela Abenojar spoke in behalf of over 600 nurses in the hearing.

“Karamihan po dito sa 649 ay may signed contract na sa employer noon pa pong 2019...malaking bilang po sa listahan natin ay ang mga nurses na patungo sana sa UK,” she said.

[Translation: Most of the 649 nurses already have a signed contract with an employer since 2019. A big number of them are bound for the UK.]

RELATED: Only 1,000 Filipino medical workers sent abroad amid deployment ban - DOLE

Abenojar said that the nurses have spent an average of ₱200,000 to ₱300,000 for their employment requirements and documents.

The temporary deployment ban, signed by the Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on April 2, covers physicians, nurses, medical technicians, and other medical staff.