Philippines Asks Migrant Workers to Delay Return As Funds Dry Up

·1 min read
A social worker takes a picture of a resident receiving cash aid on April 7,2021 in Manila, Philippines. Each resident is entitled to 1,000 pesos ($20), with a limit of 4,000 pesos ($80) per household. Some 24 million people in Manila and nearby provinces remain under strict lockdown, the longest in the world, as the worst COVID-19 surge in Southeast Asia continues to hammer the country's healthcare system. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
A social worker takes a picture of a resident receiving cash aid on April 7,2021 in Manila, Philippines. Each resident is entitled to 1,000 pesos ($20), with a limit of 4,000 pesos ($80) per household. Some 24 million people in Manila and nearby provinces remain under strict lockdown, the longest in the world, as the worst COVID-19 surge in Southeast Asia continues to hammer the country's healthcare system. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

By Andreo Calonzo

The Philippines is asking its workers abroad to delay their return to the nation, as coronavirus infections remain elevated and funds for quarantine hotels run low.

The budget for returning migrant workers’ isolation facilities will be used up by next month, said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration head Hans Cacdac, who advised Filipinos to postpone non-essential trips back home.

“It’s also for their protection. We still have a surge in cases,” Cacdac said at a virtual briefing Wednesday. The government is finding ways to address the fund shortage, he said.

The Philippines has the highest number of active coronavirus cases in the region, with the surge in infections overwhelming hospitals and dimming economic outlook. The government has repatriated more than 500,000 displaced migrant workers amid the pandemic, labor department data show.

Migrant workers’ remittances will continue to be a steady source of foreign exchange for the Philippines, central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said separately Wednesday. Longer-term prospect of overseas employment remains high, he said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.