About 180,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are expected to return to the country by the end of this year, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said on Wednesday.
“Our estimate is that about 150,000 to 180,000 will return because let’s think of the Christmas season where different types of OFWs will come home. Not only those who have lost their jobs, not only those who are distressed but those who are on vacation. Sometimes what our OFWs do is to make sure that their contract will end during the holiday season…so we hope that we will increase in the volume of those who are coming home before Christmas,” OWWA chief Hans Leo Cacdac said in a virtual forum.
Cacdac added that fewer distressed OFWs are expected to return to the country this year.
“My estimate…from July or August last year more people who returned home after losing their jobs. I would say 60 to 70 percent last year, but now the situation is subsiding because the economies in other countries are also starting. I think it is a 50-50 split — 50 percent of those who return home are returning OFWs who will return to work and the other 50 percent are still affected by Covid-19. It is either they lost their jobs or decided to have a furlough,” Cacdac added.
He added that all returning OFWs, regardless of their job descriptions, will be assisted by the government.
“This has also been talked about in the past — whether to just help those who lost their jobs. But it will cause a huge problem. Imagine at the airport we will segregate, who will be assisted and those who are not getting help. They are all OFWs. The directive of our dear President is to do everything to help OFWs. They are our modern-day heroes,” the government official said.
Cacdac, however, clarified that only OFWs who were displaced by the pandemic are entitled to the financial assistance being provided by the government under the Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Program (AKAP).
“Under the AKAP assistance only those who were temporarily or permanently displaced OFWs will be given the financial aid,” he said.
Under the program, beneficiaries are given a one-time cash assurance amounting to P10,000.
As of Aug. 13, a total of 646,912 OFWs have been sent to their home provinces since the government started bringing them back to the country in May last year.
The OWWA has earlier asked the Department of Budget and Management for additional funds worth P7.5 billion for the repatriation of OFWs for the month of September until December.