OWWA sees no significant job losses due to COVID-19 outbreak
Taxis are parked dockside near the Diamond Princess cruise ship in quarantine due to fears of the new COVID-19 coronavirus, seen through a fence at the Daikoku Pier Cruise Terminal in Yokohama on February 19, 2020.
AFP/Charly Triballeau
OWWA sees no significant job losses due to COVID-19 outbreak
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - March 2, 2020 - 6:44pm

MANILA, Philippines — The global 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak has not caused significant job losses among overseas Filipino workers and has even highlighted their positive qualities, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said Monday.

OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the outbreak did not affect the hiring of OFWs because foreign employers have seen the Filipinos' dedication to their work.

"We don't see any effect (on the hiring of Filipino workers). Of course, we will carefully observe, together with the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs), the labor market forces in the affected countries. But so far, there have been no negative signals in the sense that they would reduce or reject Filipinos," Cacdac said at a press briefing in Malacañang.

"More than ever, they saw ... the quality of the Filipino worker... So we are very confident that the governments of that areas affected, as well as the employers in the areas affected, have their full faith and trust with the Filipino workers," he added.

Cacdac cited the crew of cruise ship Diamond Princess, who continued to serve more than 3,000 passengers even if they were under quarantine. He said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III is planning to nominate the crew members to the Bagong Bayani (modern day heroes) Awards.

"We ourselves can't take that kind of a situation. You are supposed to be under quarantine but you continue to work and serve. And so they served beyond the call of duty," Cacdac said.  

Filipino domestic workers have also been put under quarantine or have tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore and in Hogn Kong.

The OWWA chief also noted that South Korea, one of the countries affected by the virus, continues to implement its government-to-government hiring program.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a total of 86 Filipino migrant workers are sick with COVID-19.

Most of the migrant workers, 80 of them, are in Japan while there are two cases each in United Arab Emirates, Hong Kong and Singapore. More than half or 48 of the infected Filipino workers are still admitted in hospitals while 32 have been discharged.

Cacdac said OWWA has been providing relief assistance to workers who were forced to go on leave.

"So far that is the situation we are monitoring but other than that, we cannot foresee at this stage any significant job losses," he said.

DFA Assistant Secretary Ed Meñez said no Filipino in Iran, one of the countries with a high number of COVID-19 cases, has expressed interest to be repatriated.

"But in the case of South Korea and Italy, because of the large numbers of Filipinos, I'm pretty sure we have countrymen there who are thinking of going home especially if they are affected by other factors," Meñez said.

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