Department of Labor and Employment
March 15, 2020
DOLE to assist stranded OFWs in Kuwait, Qatar due to COVID-19
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured assistance to around 1,000 stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Kuwait and Qatar who were affected by the temporary ban of flights to and from the Philippines due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Around 743 OFWs were affected in Kuwait, while 300 others were affected in Qatar, after both governments have temporarily barred flights to and from the Philippines on March 7 and March 9 respectively, as a preventive measure against COVID-19.
“Fortunately, Filipinos who are now in Kuwait can stay, but those who were en route after the announcement of the ban were barred entry. We are now considering either flying them back immediately or just wait for the seven-day period, as the Kuwait government said that the ban is only good for seven days,” said Bello.
Meanwhile, the 300 OFWs who have left for Qatar on March 9 will be repatriated after the government issued the ban.
The Qatar government will temporarily provide meals and accommodation for the OFWs, while they are awaiting repatriation, added Bello.
As the figures of affected OFWs may increase, Bello said that the labor department has requested to the Office of the President a budget of P1.5 billion to assist OFWs whose employment will be affected.
Meanwhile, another P1.3 billion was requested to help Filipino workers in the formal and informal sectors that could be affected by the pandemic through assistance packages such as the Adjustment Measures Program (AMP), Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers Program (TUPAD), and Government Internship Program (GIP).
After a high-level consultative meeting last week, Secretary Bello said that both the employers’ and workers’ sectors have expressed support to the flexible work arrangement proposed by DOLE to mitigate exposure of workers to COVID-19.
Although the scheme should be based on voluntary agreement between employers and workers, Bello reminded both sectors to abide by the OSH standards, or their responsibility for safe and healthy workplaces. END/aldm