MANILA – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in China are coronavirus-free but experiencing “economic difficulties”, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said on Monday.
In a Laging Handa public briefing, Sta. Romana bared that Filipino workers, especially those under “no work, no pay” scheme, are reaching out to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for financial assistance.
“On the one hand, health-wise okay, but they are experiencing economic problems, economic difficulties because they don’t have work or stopped working while waiting for the situation to normalize completely,” he said over a phone patch interview.
He explained that Filipino teachers were only paid with living allowance and not their salaries because classes have been suspended.
Undocumented Filipino household workers who wanted to return home are also having trouble processing their exit visas, he said.
The DOLE earlier assured that all Filipino repatriates from countries with confirmed coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases will be given financial, livelihood, and employment assistance.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said his agency has prepared a “reintegration program” that consists of PHP20,000 worth of financial assistance, livelihood assistance, and alternative employment opportunities especially for those who have decided to stay in the Philippines for good.
He said scholarships will also be provided to children of Filipino repatriates.
Learn from China
Sta. Romana explained that the Philippines can learn from China’s approach to the Covid-19 health crisis by adopting early detection by testing, and early isolation of Covid-infected patients.
“It’s important to have early detection and early isolation. There should be a segmentation of patients, so they don’t infect each other,” he said.
He said China was also losing health workers, which was why the People’s Liberation Army had to send in thousands of doctors to man temporary hospitals which were constructed.
China also deployed volunteer doctors from different provinces in China to help in Wuhan.
Meanwhile, he also bared that Chinese doctors have been tapped by the Department of Health (DOH) to assist Filipino doctors.
In a separate phone patch interview, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also denied the claim of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. that the agency is blocking the entry of Chinese doctors.
As of Sunday (Mar 29), China reported 31 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 81,470 cases and four new deaths, bringing the death toll to 3,304.
China is expected to lift the mass quarantine over the Wuhan City, where the pandemic originated, on April 8. (PNA)