President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Monday, September 14, has instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and its attachés to assist stranded sea-based Filipino workers as a result of the current pandemic.
“There are Filipinos who are — itong mga seafarers, karamihan nito na-stranded, naiwan sa barko and where they were not allowed to dock or magdiskarga ng intended cargoes nila for a certain destination because of COVID,” President Duterte said in a televised address to the nation regarding the pandemic.
“And they were contaminated and some who were not, escaped and others just stayed in the ships and just bear it all. Ito ‘yung mga Pilipino na minsan may nabasa ako, two years, three years na nasa labas, hindi makauwi.”
The President wants the officials from the country’s diplomatic missions abroad to work with the governments in their jurisdictions to help stranded workers.
The President said it pains him if there’s inadequacy in the assistance being extended by the government.
“A human being should never, never be a commodity that is just left behind to rot. These are human beings and Filipinos, both on the southern backdoor or kung dito sa ano.”
Meanwhile, National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reported that as of September 14, a total of 200,431 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were repatriated from all over the world.
Lorenzana said there will be a total of 2,000 repatriated OFWs from Sabah, Malaysia, with the arrival of the fifth batch of workers. There are still around 3,000 Filipinos awaiting repatriation, he added.
The defense secretary also said that they are working with the expected arrival of 80,000 OFWs returning to the Philippines this year. PND