COVID-19 pandemic shutters some 70 manpower agencies in the Philippines: POEA

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 18 2020 01:28 PM

COVID-19 pandemic shutters some 70 manpower agencies in the Philippines: POEA 1
Returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) wait in line at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 in Pasay City on May 25, 2020. The repatriated Filipino workers are scheduled to take their flights to their respective home province after undergoing the mandatory quarantine for inbound Filipinos in Manila. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Some 70 manpower agencies were forced to shut down this year after COVID-19 pandemic protocols forced foreign employers to temporarily halt hiring overseas Filipino workers (OFW), Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) administrator Bernard Olalia said Friday.

There were 71 agencies facilitating the recruitment and hiring of "land-based" overseas workers have told the POEA that they need to cease operations for now, Olalia said in an interview on state channel PTV.

"Isa sa lubos na apektado ng pandemyang ito ay ang overseas employment industry," he said.

(The overseas employment industry is among those severely affected by this pandemic.)

"Sa sea-based [agencies] wala naman po nagbigay ng notice. Ibig sabihin hindi gaanong apektado ang sea-based kumpara sa mga land-based," he said.

Land-based manpower agencies are in charge of recruiting domestic helpers, factory workers, and other professions operating on land, while sea-based manpower agencies are those hiring cruise ship staff and other seafarers.

Since the first quarter of 2020, several governments enforced lockdowns to stop the entry of travelers possibly carrying COVID-19 into their respective countries.

Several employers abroad were also forced to lay off thousands of OFWs after the global pandemic disrupted several businesses and industries, including aviation, tourism, and retail.

The POEA has allowed bankrupt manpower agencies to withdraw their escrow deposits, and automatically extended the validity of their license to operate if it expired during the COVID-19 pandemic, Olalia said.

"Pati 'yung accreditation ng kanilang foreign employers automatic extended," he said.

(The accreditation of their foreign employers was also automatically extended.)

"[Ang] dahilan po nito ay napakahirap po magproseso ng mga papeles ngayon kaya tayo po ay tumutulong sa ating mga recruitment agencies," he said.

(The reason for this is because it is very hard to process documents these days so we are helping our recruitment agencies.)

Several countries in the Middle East have already expressed interest in resuming their hiring procedures for OFWs as they continue to ease their pandemic-response restrictions, Olalia said.

Among those countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, United Kingdom and Germany, he said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier said some 300,000 OFWs have been repatriated due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some 80,000 more Filipino migrant workers are expected to return to the Philippines in the first half of 2021, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration said in an earlier briefing.

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