Seafarers comprise majority of OFWs seeking repatriation: DFA

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 08 2020 12:20 PM

OFWs wait to board their buses going to their respective provinces at the PITX in Parañaque, May 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The majority of overseas Filipino workers in need of repatriation are seafarers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.

At least 31,000 Filipino seafarers in the Americas are expected to return to the Philippines, DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said. Most of the seafarers were workers in cruise ships, she added.

"Definitely po, since cruise ships stopped operating since March, marami po talaga about 31 to 35,000 ang pauwi sa bansa," she said in a virtual press briefing.

(Around 31 to 35,000 will return to the country.)

So far, 22,198 Filipino seafarers were repatriated since the COVID-19 crisis started, Arriola said.

The pandemic has left some 341,161 OFWs displaced from work, the Department of Labor and Employment said.

Arriola assured OFWs that repatriation efforts are continuous but might take some time due to the limitation in capacities of Philippine airports to receive returnees.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila can only accommodate 1,200 OFWs per day, while the Clark International Airport in Pampanga can only accommodate 600 OFWs twice a week.

"Kaunting pasensya lang po, pero tuloy-tuloy po ang pagpapauwi natin. Tuloy-tuloy po ang repatriation," Arriola said.

(Have some patience, but rest assured that repatriation efforts are continuous.)