January 21, 2022
The rapid rise of COVID cases induced by the Omicron variant has tightened travel restrictions on thousands of overseas workers bound to Hong Kong from January 16 to February 15 this year. A travel ban has also been imposed anew on migrant workers bound to Taiwan and there is no set date when the ban would be lifted.
Already faced with this dilemma a year ago, Migrante International is urging concerned government agencies to attend to the immediate needs of stranded workers: 1) 10K ayuda, 2) free temporary shelter in NCR, 3) flight rebooking assistance, and 4) renewal fee exemption and free RT-PCR test.
The Duterte government’s neglect on handling the COVID crisis such as insufficient vaccine, lack of free RT-PCR Testing at the national level and systematic contact tracing led to the spread of the pandemic to millions of Filipinos nationwide. Coming from a “high risk” country, overseas Filipino workers’ primary source of livelihood is greatly affected.
As a matter of fact, hundreds of stranded OFWs who sought assistance from the Migrante International a year ago remain stranded and jobless. Only a trickle of them were able to return to their employers after the ban was lifted. The stranded ones’ prospective employers backed out after a long period of waiting and because of the high quarantine cost reaching twenty-one days in a hotel designated by the HK government only for domestic workers.
OWWA administrator Cacdac promised to provide welfare assistance to the stranded OFWs last year in a television interview. Alas, that promise has yet to be realized! Another news was released recently to provide 10K financial assistance to former Saudi workers seeking compensation from their former employers after a dialogue organized by Migrante International in collaboration with advocates. However, it limits the period of coverage of those OFWs with end of service claims and unpaid salaries which can be construed as part of another election moves by the current administration.
The recent entry ban to Hong Kong and Taiwan is a concrete challenge for all affected OFWs and their families to pursue protection for their rights and well being especially during this period when the nation is geared towards the election of political leaders who should serve genuinely based on their track records.
If this administration of Duterte cannot do much for the welfare of the affected OFWs, MIGRANTE International together with our OFWs are ready to dump any of the endorsed candidates of this administration in the upcoming election in May this year. ###