MANILA - The Philippines is looking to redeploy overseas Filipino workers who lost their jobs to "new markets" including China and Russia, the labor department said Tuesday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that the government may send displaced OFWs to China, Russia, Czech Republic and Taiwan.
“Maganda 'yung ating prospect for new markets (Our prospect for new markets is good),” Bello said in an interview with Teleradyo.
Bello said the government is looking at new markets for Philippine migrant labor after the COVID-19 pandemic caused an estimated 354,000 overseas Filipinos to lose their jobs.
He said that so far, government has repatriated around 165,000 OFWs, many from the Middle East.
Bello said this was what caused the 16.3-percent drop in remittances from the Middle East, as earlier reported by the central bank.
Around 200,000 OFWs, however, have refused to come home, preferring to stay in the countries they were in to try out their luck, he said.
Bello said generous unemployment insurance, especially in European countries, also entice Filipinos there to stay instead of going back to their home country.
The government, meanwhile, is keeping the ban on the deployment of nurses and other medical workers to other countries because of concerns that the country would need them in the ongoing fight against the pandemic, Bello said.
The labor chief said the Department of Health is worried that the Philippines may not have enough skilled and experienced nurses and health workers if the deployment ban is lifted.
Only nurses and other medical professionals who already have existing contracts, or those who completed all their requirements before March 8 are exempt from the deployment ban, Bello said.