MANILA – Close to 100,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are stranded in various parts of the world, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) reported Sunday.
Based on the report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in 40 foreign posts, there are a total of 98,615 stranded workers as of Friday (May 29).
In a news release, the DOLE command center in Manila reported that the OFWs are either affected by lockdowns in their respective host countries due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, those distressed seeking to be repatriated or those whose work contracts have expired but cannot return to the Philippines due to the absence of commercial flights.
Majority of the stranded OFWs are in the Middle East at 83,483 while 12,050 Filipinos are in Europe and American region and 3,082 are in Asian countries.
Most OFWs from the Middle East are land-based while those in Europe-Americas majority are sea-based workers.
Those in Asian countries, meanwhile, are mostly land-based.
Of the total stranded OFWs, about 19,631 have unfinished contracts or distressed needing repatriation in the coming weeks, 11,505 of whom are in the Middle East while close to 6,500 are in Europe and the Americas.
Also, the POLOs have so far recorded the repatriation of 36,625 OFWs since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the command center also reported that all of the over 24,000 OFWs who were virtually locked up in various quarantine facilities would have been transported to their provinces by May 31.
As of Sunday noon, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said 23,472 OFWs had embarked for their safe homecoming with their families.
The clearances of 538 workers are still being awaited.
All transported OFWs were given clearances after undergoing Covid-19 tests following prolonged quarantine in government-designated facilities.
OWWA had so far spent over PHP700 million for the repatriation, transport, accommodation and food of the returning OFWs.
Last week, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III ordered the activation of the command center to monitor and direct actions on the repatriation, assistance, reintegration and deployment of OFWs, and prevent a repeat of the seemingly disorderly process in dealing with returning OFWs due to health crisis. (ia/PNA)