MANILA— The number of Filipinos who were repatriated last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic was lower compared to the previous year, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Senior Special Assistant Jose Cabrera of DFA's Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs said that from 16,023 migrant workers in 2020, the number fell to 13,635 in 2021.
It is so far unclear why fewer Filipinos were repatriated but it may be due to personal reasons, he said.
“The lower figure actually, we do repatriations on the basis of OFWs who need it, who request assistance. So essentially the number of OFWs requesting assistance from the DFA for repatriation in 2021 was definitely much lower than it was for 2020," Cabrera told lawmakers of the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs.
"As to the specific reasons po, whether they have decided to remain in their countries of destination or there are are other motivations for foregoing the option of repatriation, we are not quite sure," he added.
The DFA official noted that their office and partner agencies are open to help any Filipino who needs to come home.
"I would like to emphasize on the part of the DFA and the Philippine government itself, we have opened all of our agencies overseas, not just DFA po but also our partner agencies, yung ating POLOs and OWWA," he said.
"Everybody’s open to helping any Filipino who wants to be repatriated. All they need to do is ask for assistance," he added.
The Philippines is currently experiencing a spike of COVID-19 infections most likely driven by the omicron variant.
On Thursday, the country posted 18,191 new cases.
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