Philippines spends P80M for Israel-Lebanon-West Bank repatriation

Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2023 03:57 PM

The Department of Migrant Workers has spent P80 million of its Aksyon Fund for the repatriation of Filipinos from Israel, Lebanon and the West Bank amid fears of spillover of the ongoing conflict in the Gaza Strip.

An eighth batch of 32 overseas Filipino workers from Israel is arriving 3:15PM Friday, November 17 at the Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) via Etihad Airways flight EY424. 

This group of returnees includes 8 hotel workers, 24 caregivers and 1 infant, bringing the total number of repatriated Filipinos from Israel to 256 since the Israel-Hamas war erupted last October 7. 

Eighty-three more OFWs are being processed for repatriation in Tel Aviv.

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Meanwhile, a total of 28 Filipinos have also successfully returned to the country from Lebanon. Three more are expected to arrive Friday, while 150 are being processed in Beirut.

"Meron ilan sa kanila na may problems in terms of their documentation status sa immigration. So pino-process pa 'yon with the Lebanese General Services, kailangan pa ng go signal ng Lebanese Immigration authorities," DMW OIC Undersecretary Hans Cacdac said.

"Ang sabi sa ‘min it takes up to two weeks, which means it could be less than two weeks. So we’re hoping na in one to two weeks mapo-process itong balanse natin na mga around 150 sa Lebanon."

Two Filipinos have also come home from the other Palestinian territory on the West Bank while 4 more are currently being processed for repatriation, according to Cacdac.

OFWs repatriated due to conflicts receive P50,000 financial assistance upon their arrival. This is on top of livelihood or reintegration assistance that they can avail of after. 

The DMW uses its P1.2 billion AKSYON Fund for such purposes. 

The P80 million spent for the Israel-Hamas conflict is also but a fraction of the P474 million spent since the start of the year, which went largely to both financial and legal assistance for OFWs. This is also less than 50 percent utilization of the overall budget which to date, has a remaining balance of P725 million. 

The DMW hopes to utilize the said budget within the year or if not, be rolled over for next year.

The DMW is also asking Congress for an increase of P5.1 billion in its budget allocation for 2024, in order to further improve and expand services to OFWs in various parts of the world.

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