250 distressed OFWs get DOLE help to go home

Some 250 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait will arrive in the country on September 1 after the government responded to their urgent request for assistance.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said 80 of the troubled OFWs came from the Migrant Workers and Other Overseas Filipinos Resource Center (MWOFRC) while the remaining 170 are domestic and company workers.

“These workers have either finished their contracts or have expiring exit visas and victims of various employment contract-related violations,” he said, adding the unfortunate migrant workers were rescued through a government-arranged Qatar Airways chartered flight.

He said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) covered the tickets of 50 distressed OFWs while the rest were shouldered by employers or companies.

“They are expected to be in the country at 4:50 pm on September 1. Government representatives will be at the airport to welcome them,” he added.

Bello said just like the many OFWs who were repatriated by the government, the arriving migrant workers via flight QR 932 will receive other forms of assistance such as quarantine accommodation and transport services for their journey back to their respective homes and families.

The returning OFWs will also be tested for Covid at the expense of the government as part of the standard operating procedure to comply with safety and health protocols.

The Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Kuwait said the chartered flight is DOLE’s response to the requests of OFWs who can’t go home on regular flights due to “current restrictions and daily seat cap for arriving Filipino workers in the country,” Labor Attaché Nasser S. Mustafa said.

Mustafa lauded Bello for relentlessly finding ways to help migrant workers in difficult situations amid the pandemic. “This continuing first massive repatriation effort is truly inspired by the government’s commitment to serve our modern-day heroes. I thank Secretary Bello for being at the forefront of this great endeavor,” he added.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has approved DOLE’s request for exemption from restrictions of the special flight.