The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Wednesday reported that almost 500,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic have been assisted by the government and are now in their home provinces.
“As of March 10, we have 470,000 OFWs. It is approaching the half a million mark of those that we have sent to their home regions by the OWWA and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and it is also an inter-agency effort,” OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a virtual forum.
Cacdac also said the government continues to provide assistance to returning OFWs which include free swab testing, food and accommodation, and transportation to their home regions.
“Upon orders of the President, swab testing or PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing of arriving OFW is free, the quarantine hotel facility including food is also free and also the transportation to their home regions,” he added.
At the same time, Cacdac also reported that at present, there are some 10,000 OFWs that are in 150 hotel facilities, who are waiting for their scheduled transportation back to their provinces.
He said the government is spending P30,000 a day, based on the estimated maximum cost of hotel accommodation per night at P3,000.
“I will give you an estimate, the maximum cost per night in a hotel is around P3,000. It could be less depending on the classification of the hotel. If it’s five-star, maximum of P3,000 per night and then if lesser degree than five-star, less than P3,000, and then we have around 10,000 OFWs right now. So our projected daily cost is P3,000 times 10,000,” the OWWA head added.
Cacdac said the figure only covers the accommodation and does not include the food and transportation expenses.
“It does not include food and transportation. It’s only for hotel accommodations. Of course, included in the hotel accommodations, the food while they are there. There are other food costs, for example, if they have been transported to the airport they will be provided with food. If they will be brought to the bus terminal, they will be given food,” he added.
Cacdac, however, said they cannot give an estimate on how many more OFWs are expected to return to the country.
“It’s difficult to say since the situation right now is fluid because of the vaccine. That will depend on the extent and the efficacy of the vaccination program of countries worldwide, so I want to say 80,000 to 100,000 in the course of the year but I think that is dependent on how the vaccination program of the whole world. The computation for this year will change because of the vaccination phenomenon,” he added.
The government started repatriating OFWs affected by the pandemic in May last year.