Stranded OFWs seek govt help in return to China

Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 05 2020 04:13 PM

Stranded OFWs seek govt help in return to China 1
Stranded OFWs take shelter from the rain at the entry checkpoint of the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City on June 10, 2020. Hundreds of passengers, mostly OFWs wishing to go home to their provinces, remain stranded due to the travel restrictions implemented during the COVID19 pandemic. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Filipino migrant workers stranded in the Philippines on Monday appealed to government to stop abusive Chinese and Filipino agents peddling one-way tickets worth some P200,000.

The workers, who flew home early this year for the Chinese New Year holiday, sought government's help in arranging a chartered flight that would offer reasonably-priced plane tickets to fly them back to China.

“Hindi naman po kami nagpapalibre sa gobyerno. Magbabayad din po kami. Kaya lang, nasaan naman ang pagiging makatao doon sa ticket? Kulang P200,000," said Hilda Maravilla, who has a teaching job waiting in China.

(We're not asking government to pay for our airfare. We will pay. But a plane ticket that costs more than P200,000 is too much.)

"Alam nyo po sir, ang dami nang nagsasangla ng titulo para lang makabili ng ticket dahil ang family namin nandoon… Mismong kami, ginagatasan… dahil sa mga third party na iyan. Bakit po umaabot po sa ganoon?”

(Many have pawned their lands just to buy a plane ticket because our families are there. Third party agents are taking advantage of us.)

Kathy Padre, also ang English teacher in China, already had three flights cancelled to China as the pandemic persisted.

“Hindi po kami humihingi ng libreng pamasahe. Hindi po libre. Tulong po, assistance po, kasi gobyerno ang kailangan namin sa mga ganitong pagkakataon na hindi lang isang OFW ang gustong lumipad para sa trabaho na naka-antay na, nakalatag na. Kami na lang ang kulang sa bansang Tsina,” she said.

(We're not asking for free airfare. We're asking for assistance because we need government because our jobs are ready and they await us.)

The OFWs said they have sent a letter of petition to the labor department and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, but said they were just given the runaround by the government agencies.

“Pinagpapasa-pasahan. Nagpapasa-pasahan sila kung saan kami pupunta at hihingi ng tulong,” Liberty Glorioso said.

(Agencies were just referring us to other agencies.)

The group's letter of petition was signed by close to 200 stranded Filipino workers. It was addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, and Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

“We Filipinos are highly skilled and extremely hardworking, so our bosses in China gave us an invitation letter so that we can come back. We have vital roles in our company so our bosses need us," the letter read.

"At the same time, not being able to return to work for more than 8 months now is causing threat for our family because we cannot really support the daily needs of our family members."