300,000 OFWs to return to Philippines due to coronavirus pandemic: DILG chief

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 10:03 AM | Updated as of May 25 2020 10:10 AM

A member of the Philippine Coast Guard guides overseas Filipino workers as they arrive from Hong Kong at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Parañaque City, May 13, 2020. Filipino migrant workers returning to the Philippines, whether land-based or sea-based, are required to undergo rapid testing and a 14-day facility-based quarantine for the coronavirus disease. Basilio H. Sepe, ABS-CBN News/File 

MANILA — Some 300,000 overseas Filipino workers are expected to return to the Philippines this year as lockdowns meant to curb the coronavirus pandemic left many businesses struggling to survive, the Department of the Interior and Local Government said Monday. 

The Philippines has repatriated some 27,000 migrant workers and around 43,000 others are expected to come home until June, officials earlier said. 

"Sa buong taon ni-expect kasi natin na mga 300,000 na OFWs ang uuwi," DILG Secretary Eduardo Año told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

"Buong mundo kasi ang naka-lockdown. Pinauuwi talaga nila iyong mga workers -- hindi lang Pilipinas -- iba't ibang countries. Ito rin ang pagkakataon na ipakita natin ang importance ng mga OFWs 'pag sila ay umuwi na," he added. 

(During the whole year, we are expecting that 300,000 OFWs will come home. The whole world is under lockdown. They are sending home migrant workers, not just from the Philippines, but other countries, too. This is our chance to show the importance of OFWs, when they get home.) 

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

Cash remittances from OFWS hit a record $30 billion (P1.5 trillion) in 2019, helping drive consumption and strengthening the peso against the dollar. 

Some repatriated OFWs stayed in isolation centers for 2 months, 4 times longer than their supposed 14-day quarantine, due to problems with encoding and printing of certificates that have been resolved, said Año. 

Between Monday and Wednesday, the government will escort some 24,000 OFWs to their home provinces, who tested negative for the coronavirus and completed their quarantine in Metro Manila, he said. 

The Philippines will give $200 (P10,000) to OFWs who were left jobless by the pandemic, the labor department earlier said.