PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, June 22, said that the number of overseas Filipinos facing repatriation could exceed 100,000 in the coming months due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
He noted reports from cruise line companies saying 29,963 more seafarers are expected to be repatriated.
Likewise, foreign service posts of the Department of Foreign Affairs said 17,830 land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) showed interest in being repatriated.
“Barring any complications, this would bring the total number of repatriates to 93,675,” Duterte pointed out in his 13th report to Congress.
“However, due to the continuing impact of the pandemic, the number of repatriated Filipinos could reach 100,000 or even higher in the coming months,” he added.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited the Department of Labor and Employment’s data that showed 50,105 Overseas Filipino Workers have been transported back to their home provinces from May 15 to June 14 by planes, boats and buses.
He also defended the government from critics saying that repatriated OFWs are being treated like “garbage” in the country.
“Inuwi po natin lahat ng manggagawa natin. Binigyan namin ng libreng PCR testing, binigyan natin ng libreng pamasahe sa eroplano, sa bus, at sa barko (We’re bringing home all our workers and we give them free PCR testing and we shoulder their ride home),” Roque said in late May.
“Hindi po ‘yan garbage-like treatment. VIP treatment po ‘yan (That’s not garbage-like treatment. That is VIP treatment),” he added.
Duterte in his report also mentioned that the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program-Abot-Kamay ang Pagtulong (CAMP-AKAP) program has released P1.5 billion as the first tranche of its funding assistance.
He added that overseas Filipino health workers who returned to the country are covered by CAMP-AKAP, with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) processing their online applications.
The Department of Labor and Employment, meanwhile, oversees the distribution of the assistance to affected workers in the country through the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) and the DOLE regional offices.