OWWA vows to settle P1.7-B debt to hotels used as quarantine facilities

Wena Cos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2022 05:19 PM

MANILA - Hotels serving as quarantine facilities for returning overseas workers will be paid soon, an official assured, following reports that the government owed quarantine hotels at least P1.7 billion.

"Meron na tayong mga chekeng nilalabas. In spite of the delays, imposibleng hindi kayo mababayaran," said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Deputy Administrator for Administration and Fund Management Arnell Ignacio.

(Checks are being released. Despite delays, you will all be paid.)

"Hindi naman hawak ng OWWA ang pondo, lahat nangagagaling sa Department of Budget and Management (DBM)," he added, but assured that payments are being coursed through. 

(We do not hold the funds, it comes from the Department of Budget and Management.)

"Ngayon naman, tuluy-tuloy na tayong nakakapag-release ng funds para sa ating mga hotels."

(The release of payments are ongoing.)

Over 1.7 million Filipinos have returned home since the pandemic began, and there are at least 1,704 overseas Filipino workers in 92 hotels, but numbers continue to decrease with the shorter quarantine period implemented for returning overseas individuals. 

OWWA also releases P10,000 per repatriated individual under its DOLE-AKAP financial assistance program. 

The same assistance is extended to repatriated Filipinos from Ukraine. 

At least 652 Filipinos came safely home from Ukraine amid the conflict in Eastern Europe.

Ignacio said that the agency is working to download funds from DBM to release the cash assistance to more repatriates.

No requests for repatriation have come from workers in Hong Kong and South Korea where COVID cases are soaring, and in Japan where a massive earthquake threatened a tsunami on the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi regions. 

Ignacio said that foreign attachés are continuously monitoring the welfare of Filipino workers in the said countries. 

"Hindi tayo masyadong masyadong mag-aalala d'yan (South Korea), in spite of the numbers ng COVID, dahil sa napaka-efficient nilang management ng kanilang COVID response," he said. 

(We don't worry much about our fellow Filipinos in South Korea because despite the rise in COVID-19 cases, their pandemic response is very efficient.)

Ignacio said that repatriation will continue under under OWWA, while implementing rules and regulations are being drafted for the Department of Migrant Workers to determine if there will be a permanent repatriation program. 

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