EMPATHIZING with the plight of hundreds of overseas Filipino workers in the United Arab Emirates, most of whom are already unemployed and stranded there for months, Senator Richard J. Gordon proposed to allow more passenger flights carrying OFWs to come in.
Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross, wrote to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to propose opening the airports in Clark, Subic and Mactan to be able to accommodate more flights carrying OFWs.
He pointed out that while the need for precautions prompted the government to impose a limitation of 400 arrivals a day at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to the coronavirus disease 2010 or COVID-19 pandemic, the predicament of the OFWs should also be taken into consideration and their suffering should be alleviated.
“I’m aware that we have to take precautions, but I think it would not be a problem, if we allow more flights to come in and distribute them to other airports such as Clark, Subic, and Mactan,” the PRC chairman said in a letter to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., IATF’s chief implementer and his deputy, VivencioDizon, who is also President and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Gordon said diverting flights to the airports in Clark, Subic and Mactan would pose little risk to efforts to combat the spread of the disease since PRC testing centers will be operational within the week in the three areas. They have hotel capabilities as well.
“I’m sure your prompt action would be greatly appreciated by our kababayans in the Middle East whose suffering would be alleviated because they will be able to come home to their families. It must be very hard, being stranded and jobless in a foreign land, far away from your loved ones and unsure of where to get money for your next meal and other daily needs. I have also received emails pleading for help about their situation,” he stressed.
The Philippine Embassy in the UAE earlier wrote to the IATF seeking assistance for the hundreds of OFWs who are unable to return to Manila. They have been stranded because Emirates and Etihad cancelled several repatriation flights from Dubai to Manila after airports in the Philippines were temporarily closed to passenger flights due to the pandemic.