THE government has repatriated 348 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the fourth batch of repatriation since the IATF declared travel restrictions from seven countries, the labor department reported on Sunday.
In a report to Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Dubai said that the OFW repatriates left UAE on Saturday, July 10, and arrived Manila on Sunday morning via flight PR 8659 of the Philippine Airlines.
The cost of the chartered flight was shouldered by OWWA, Bello said.
The repatriation was undertaken in coordination with the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, in efforts to bring home close to 2,000 OFWs and their families from the emirates. The first three batches of repatriation were undertaken by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Four more DOLE-OWWA repatriation flights are set on July 12, 17, 27 and 30.
Bello said the repatriates include 67 pregnant OFWs, 30 OFWs with medical cases, six OFW wards housed at the Bahay Kalinga in Dubai, and two OFW wards housed at the Bahay Kalinga in Abu Dhabi.
The rest of the OFW passengers are those with cancelled flights or overstayers in UAE.
One of the passengers was a household service worker who sought shelter at POLO Dubai after chancing upon an OWWA personnel at the airport.
Her employer has bought her ticket and abandoned her at the Dubai airport on July 5. However, she failed to board her flight that day, which consisted of several layovers and connecting flights.
Expressing her delight over being included in the repatriation flight, she said: “Maraming salamat po at makakauwi na rin ako sa aking pamilya.”
The repatriated OFWs will undergo quarantine and will be transported to their respective hometowns after they were cleared and tested negative of COVID-19.
OWWA will take care of their hotel accommodation and food while waiting for the result of their COVID test. The DOLE attached agency will also facilitate their transport back to their provinces.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed the conduct of special commercial flights to bring home OFWs who were stranded in the Middle East and other countries covered by the country’s inbound travel ban.
A Special Working Group was created to determine the implementing protocols for the special commercial flights, in coordination with the concerned airlines.
Among the members of the Special Working Group are OWWA, the Department of Health, the Bureau of Quarantine, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Transportation and its One-Stop-Shop, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Department of Tourism.