DFA says 31k OFWs returned since virus hit

More than 31,000 Filipinos abroad have been repatriated since the Department of Foreign Affairs started bringing back those affected by the coronavirus pandemic in February this year, the agency said Monday.

Of the 31,528 Filipino repatriates, 65.5 percent or 20,635 were sea-based and 34.5 percent or 10,893 were land-based. Those included the most recent repatriates arriving from France on the last day of the modified enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, the agency said.

The department also said 160 Filipino tourists, workers and students were finally repatriated to Manila from Japan after being stranded there for two months due to flight cancellations and other problems.

Deputy Chief of Mission Robespierre Bolivar said the returning Filipinos were provided welfare and financial aid, especially the tourists and students who went to Japan on a limited budget and who could no longer support themselves during their unplanned prolonged stay there.

At the Senate, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday urged the government to address the food and health needs of the Filipino Workers stranded for several days at various transport terminals.

She made the appeal to the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration following reports that many Filipinos stuck at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were not provided with food, water and other basic needs.

"Our Overseas Filipino Workers, as modern-day heroes, deserve to be treated better," she said.

Citing records, Foreign Affairs said for the month of May 2020 alone, 7,794 Filipino repatriates returned home against 21,519 in April.

The agency said its repatriation efforts slowed down in May due to NAIA’s temporary closure and subsequent reduction of commercial and charter flights to allow some 24,000 stranded workers in Metro Manila to return to their provinces.

For the month of May, Foreign Affairs cleared five chartered flights that brought home distressed Filipino workers and stranded Filipinos from Thailand, Myanmar, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Timor-Leste.

“The successful repatriations of OFWs are joint efforts of the DFA and the Embassies and Consulates General around the world,” the department said.

Topics: Department of Foreign Affairs , coronavirus pandemic , Robespierre Bolivar
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