THE Overseas Workers Welfare Administration yesterday said it will monitor airports for possible overseas Filipino workers who will be stranded due to the two-week flight ban imposed by Hong Kong due to COVID-19.
OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac said they will most likely assist the Balik-Manggagawa or returning OFWs as recruitment agencies already help provide resources for their own stranded employees.
“Kung wala silang matutuluyan dito sa Maynila, kung taga probinsya sila, taga ibang regions, ay tutulungan natin sila magkaroon ng shelter, of course food and accommodation. Assistance na rin, ‘yung transport from the airport to kung sa’n man nila gustong magpahatid,” he added.
Hong Kong announced the ban on incoming flights from eight countries, including the Philippines, from Jan. 8 to 21, 2022, as authorities feared a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections.
Cacdac said that while deployment is still mainly dependent on the skill sets, reliability, and loyalty of the employee, the health of the workers is also now factored in due to the COVID-19 and the threat of the Omicron variant.
However, he believes that should this have further effects on the OFWs, it will only be temporary.
Cacdac cited reports from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration that the pandemic still has bigger effects on the deployment of land-based OFWs as compared to the sea-based which is already nearing the pre-pandemic levels.
“Talagang masama pa rin ang sitwasyon in terms of deployment ng land-based workers. Bumagsak pa rin ang deployment. However, sa sea-based, halos pumapantay sa pre-COVID levels ‘yung deployment,” he said.
Aside from seafarers, Cacdac said there is also high demand for sectors such healthcare, logistics or transport of essential goods, manufacturing, engineering and architecture, and information technology.
“Kailangan siguraduhin lang po na dumaan sa lisensyadong recruitment agency na nakatala sa POEA at mismong foreign employer dapat accredited din under POEA records,” he added.