OWWA seeking P9.8 billion supplemental budget for OFWs' quarantine needs

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 03 2021 01:26 PM | Updated as of May 03 2021 01:55 PM

OWWA seeking P9.8 billion supplemental budget for OFWs' quarantine needs 1
Arriving OFWs at the NAIA Terminal 1 undergo health protocols and fill out documents while being assisted by Philippine Coast Guard personnel before getting clearance from the Philippine Red Cross to get swab tests on October 28, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is seeking a supplemental budget of P9.8 billion to fund the food, transport and accommodation of returning overseas Filipino workers, its official said Monday. 

The budget, meant to fund quarantine and the return of OFWs to the provinces, will last the agency until the end of the year, OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac told ANC. 

"That’s quite a lot so we need funding to support the government's protocol program," Cacdac said. 

"Right now we are coordinating with DBM, technical coordination is on the way, DBM also want to ask some questions about the spending. Positive talks are currently being undertaken," he added.

Cacdac said they are expecting at least 2,000 arrivals per day, 60,000 a month or as much as 480,000 returning OFWs for 8 months.

The recent quarantine measures imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19 "tripled or even quadrupled" spending on OFWs since they now stay longer in quarantine hotels, he said. 

The NCR Plus bubble remains under modified enhanced community quarantine until May 14.

Since May 2020, there were over half a million repatriated OFWs, Cacdac said adding that some 70,000 to 80,000 OFWS are still waiting to be repatriated. 

Despite the influx of foreign workers who are coming back home, Cacdac said there is recovery in the sector as the situation improves in other countries.

Majority of the estimated total 6 million to 7 million OFWs globally, were "not substantially or adversely affected," he said.

The cruise sector is slowly but surely reopening while seafarers are also coming back on board, he added. 

"The vast majority have pretty much kept their jobs especially during this last few months," he said. 

Many OFWs have lost their jobs and have decided to go back to the country due to the impact of COVID-19 to the global economy.

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