Amid an ongoing widespread protests over the economic crisis in Sri Lanka, an estimated 150 Filipinos in the country have requested repatriation, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) reported.
“We have 700 Filipinos residing or staying in Sri Lanka. Out of this number, around 150 have requested for repatriation,” DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople, in a GMA News report, said. “So we are relying on the DFA for the assistance to be given to the affected workers and they assured me that repatriation arrangements are underway,” she later added.
Reports said Sri Lanka declared a state of emergency as thousands of people mobbed the prime minister’s office after the country’s president flew to the Maldives.
Sri Lanka President Gotabaya Rajapaksa with his wife and a bodyguard boarded an Antonov-32 military aircraft which took off from the international airport to the Maldives, GMA News reported.
Ople meanwhile said the Philippine government is distributing food packs and COVID-19 care packages to overseas Filipino workers affected by the surge of COVID cases in Macau, GMA News reported.
Macau earlier imposed a week-long lockdown to curb its COVID-19 cases. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration will assist DMW in helping the said OFWs in Macau.
In the local front, the DMW will be fully operational in 2023, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).
Labor Secretary Bienvenido Laguesma made the assurance during a press conference in Quezon City where a joint circular by the DOLE and the DMW was unveiled.
The joint circular provides for the smooth transition of at least six labor agencies from DOLE to DMW, effectively charting the path for the latter’s evolution into a full-fledged department of government.
The agencies referred to are the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs), International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the National Maritime Polytechnic (NMP).
Under Republic Act 11641 — the law that created the DMW — the transition would be carried out in a maximum of two years. However, Laguesma found the stipulated period too long which runs counter to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s goal to deliver faster service to Filipino migrant workers.
The Labor chief dismissed speculations of ‘railroading’ in the transfer of the DOLE attached agencies to DMW. He said the joint circular introduced yesterday — the first made by DOLE and DMW — is just one of the measures taken by the two agencies to advance the complete establishment of DMW.
While it’s true that the transition will relieve DOLE of OFW-related tasks, it will help the department focus on its job to handle local employment. With Vito Barcelo