MANILA (UPDATE) — The coronavirus pandemic has affected 478,839 overseas Filipino workers, the Department of Labor and Employment said on Thursday.
Of the figure, 469,959 OFWs were displaced or lost their jobs, while 8,880 Filipino workers abroad were infected with the respiratory illness, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said at a Senate hearing.
Of the displaced workers, 230,424 returned to the Philippines while 104,813 opted to stay in their host countries, mostly in Europe, Bello said.
"Hindi sila umuwi. It's expected because especially most of them come from Europe. And in Europe, the unemployment insurance covers more than one year. Hindi kagaya dito sa atin, 2 months lang," he said.
(They did not come home. It's expected because especially most of them come from Europe. In Europe, the unemployment insurance covers more than one year, unlike here where it only covers 2 months.)
Bello said 13,035 OFWs are still up for repatriation, while 70,647 remain stranded.
Meanwhile, of the over 8,000 OFWs infected with COVID-19, 4,536 have recovered while 848 died, he added.
Bello said repatriated OFWs are entitled to an initial financial assistance of around P10,000 to P20,000, and can also apply for livelihood assistance.
There are also various scholarship programs offered for the children and dependents of OFWs, said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Cacdac.
Cacdac said his agency is also providing assistance to OFWs who are currently in the Philippines and plan to return to work abroad as countries gradually ease coronavirus restrictions and reopen.
"Gradually, nagbubukas na ang mga bansa, lalo na sa Middle East. 'Yan po ang binabantayan natin... Tinutulungan natin iyong gustong bumalik," he said.
(Gradually, countries are reopening, especially in the Middle East. That's what we are monitoring... We are helping those who want to return.)