The COVID-19 pandemic created a huge impact on all Filipinos working outside the country. More than 50,000 OFWs are expected to arrive in the Philippines by the end of July, says the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Sarah Arriola, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary, appealed for more funding for the department as their expenses increase amidst the repatriation of OFWs from different parts of the world.
“We are hoping to bring home 50,557 by the end of the month,” says Arriola before during a meeting at the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs.
In July, 21,000 OFWs who were repatriated came from the Middle East. Others were from Asia (2,934), Europe (1,478), Americas (2,359), and Africa (20).
Arriola explained that the repatriation of these OFWs costs a lot especially due to the restriction of flights.
“We have P232 million [left], and that its enough until the end of August. Our spending increased by 72.5%,”Arriola added.
The department is also having trouble repatriating those from Qatar as the air ticket is very expensive.
“The problem with Qatar is the ticket is very expensive. For commercial flights, it should be Qatar Airways. Iyong mga kababayan po nating may dati ng ticket, hindi po mairebook kasi wala nga pong commercial flights.”
According to Arriola, there are still 167,000 OFW who are waiting to be repatriated and this number keeps on growing.
“We have OFWs in Uzbekistan needing repatriation, and unfortunately we do not have an honorary consul and embassy there, so our embassy in Tehran, Iran will be mounting a very big repatriation effort to get them home,” says Arriola.
Meanwhile, Filipinos in Saudi Arabia also needs to be repatriated.
“We have 10,151 OFWs in Riyadh needing assistance. They have exit visas, but they have no capacity to pay for their tickets,” says Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto.