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‘Lock-ins, lock-outs’ another challenge in OFW repatriation amid pandemic—Bello

By: - Reporter / @BLozadaINQ
/ 06:20 PM June 27, 2020
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Labor and Employment Sec. Silvestre Bello III (Henzberg Austria/Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines—Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that lockdown restrictions in many countries are one of the biggest challenges in bringing home overseas Filipino workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic and not just the funding.

During a hybrid public hearing of the House Public Accounts Committee, Belo said that the “lock-ins and lock-outs” in nations with COVID-19 cases remain a hindrance even though the Philippines has eased its protocols to allow migrant workers to return to the country.

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“In repatriating our OFWs, we also have to consider the lockdowns imposed by countries where they are working,” Bello said.

Another difficulty is some of the employers’ reluctance to give OFWs their exit visas or legal impediments tied to the migrant Filipinos’ loans and other cases.

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“It really gets frustrating when foreign employers refuse to give the exit visas of our OFWs to stop them from returning to the Philippines. There are many employers like that abroad,” said Bello.

“Repatriation of OFWs also becomes difficult to achieve when they still have loans to settle and complaints to face.”

Luis Ray “LRay” Villafuerte, House Deputy Speaker and Camarines Sur Representative, pushed for more funding to boost government efforts to bring more OFWs home.

Bell, though, acknowledged that additional funding will help but the best way for them to repatriate Filipinos is the better coordination between government agencies.

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TAGS: Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, Department of Labor and Employment, nation, Silvestre Bello III
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