MANILA - Some 106,000 overseas Filipino workers have returned to their home provinces since May, a government official said Sunday as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the country.
Repatriated migrant workers wait for their mandatory swab test results for 3 to 5 days, which are sent to their emails, before they are transported home, said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Hans Cacdac.
Several buses do rounds on 67 hotels to bring OFWs to their home provinces, he added.
"Naging smooth na po (ang process), nagkaroon lang talaga ng pagiipon ng OFWs nung huling linggo ng Mayo," Cacdac told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(They now undergo a smooth process. The number of OFWs being repatriated in late May just accumulated.)
"Syempre, meron pong day-to-day operational issues, hindi po maiiwasan ito. But on the whole, smooth na po ang proseso ng pagpapauwi."
(Of course, there are day-to-day operational issues. It can't be helped. But on the whole, the process of getting OFWs home has been smooth.)
Government billeted around 47,000 OFWs in Metro Manila hotels for their quarantine using P850 million of its funds, Cacdac said.
Some P350 million were spent for transportation of the migrant workers, totaling the agency's expense so far at P1.2 billion, as of first week of July, he added.
The agency had to use portion of its trust fund from the OFWs' contributions prior to DBM's additional allocation of P5 billion that is good until 2014, according to Cacdac.
"Before ng tulong sa DBM, medyo nakita natin na kung magpatuloy ito hangggang katapusang ng taon, maaapektuhan ang pondo," he said of the agency's trust fund.
(Before DBM's help, we saw this would greatly affect our funds.)
"Sa ngayon, we are fine. Nabawasan nang konti ang pondo but we are in the black. Hindi naman nalagay sa peligro in terms of assets over liabilities ang OWWA."
(For now we are fine, our fund was reduced but we are in the black. OWWA is not in danger in terms of assets over liabilities.)
The agency has raised to the health department the cases of some 1 percent OFWs who tested positive for the coronavirus when they arrived in their home province, Cacdac said.
"Ang ating gusto sana, makita kung ano ang dahilan bakit sila nagpositibo...Sana mapag-aralan ng ating contact tracing teams," he said.
(We want to know the reasons why they tested positive... We hope our contact tracing teams could study this.)
As of July 19, government has repatriated 90,497 Filipino migrant workers, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The Philippines has, so far, reported 78,412 cases of the novel coronavirus, with 25,752 recoveries and 1,897 deaths.