Gov’t urged to plan programs for returning OFWs amid nCoV scare

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines – Millions of Filipinos are scattered in almost all parts of the world as overseas workers.

Thus, the Commission on Population and Development (POPCOM) recommends that the government should plan programs for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) should they decide to return home to the Philippines due to the threat of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

“Remember there are 10 to 12 million (Filipino) migrant workers worldwide. So we have to be ready to absorb them over the next year or two if they have all to comeback,” said Undersecretary Juan Antonio Perez III, POPCOM’s Executive Director.

The agency added that OFW remittances may decline in locations affected by the outbreak of nCoV such as in China and Hong Kong which host a large number of Filipino workers.

“Hong Kong is covered by this coronavirus issue, will also lead to a reduction of deployment there and we will have that effect on the economy but for now it is not that large I believe,” Perez said.

The official suggests health care facilities in the country to step up preparations and measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Likewise, equal protection must also be provided to local health workers who are on the frontline of the situation and even those working in airline and airport services, cruise and immigration as they are the first to make contact with potential carriers entering the country.

Perez noted, meanwhile, that the Philippines being an island nation somehow would help restrain the virus.

“We are not a country like China or ang mga countries around China na mahaba ang mga border na madaling mag-cross-over,” Perez explained.

“For us you really have to go to our ports and airports so that is an advantage,” he added.

Meanwhile, workers’ group Associated Labor Unions-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (ALU-TUCP) urges employers to provide their workers protection against nCoV.

The group advised employees and workers of their right to refuse should an assigned job would mean their lives as stated in Republic Act 11058 also known as the An Act Strengthening. Compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Standards signed in November 2019.

Kapag ang mga manggagawa sa tingin nila ay unsafe at unhealthy para sa kanila para magtrabaho ay maaari silang hindi pumasok at hindi magtrabaho, (If a worker feels that the job is unsafe or unhealthy, he may choose not to report to work or decline),” said ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay.

Ipaalam sa kanilang mga employer na may hazard o may risk kapag sila ay magpatuloy na magtrabaho, (He must raise the hazard or risk to his employer if he chooses to perform the job),” he added,

Tanjusay also emphasized that employees should be entitled to a hazard pay if their job poses high risk of nCoV infection. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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