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DOLE helps 250 distressed OFWs find their way home

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III

MANILA – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said 250 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Kuwait will arrive in the country on Sept. 1 after the government responded to the migrant workers’ urgent request for assistance.

Bello 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 in a news release on Monday.

Bello said the unfortunate migrant workers were rescued through a Qatar Airways chartered flight arranged by the government.

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 families or places of origin.

“Of course, we will also have them tested for Covid at the expense of the government as part of the standard operating procedure to comply with safety and health protocols,” he said.

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.

“This is due to the 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 effort to achieve the country’s first massive repatriation campaign 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,” Mustafa said.

Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) has approved the request of the DOLE for exemption for the special flight.