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Philippines urged to help stranded workers as Covid-19 cases hit 39k-mark

15 January 2022

 By The SUN 

Rush for Covid jabs in Mandaluyong City, as the country hit a record 39,004 cases

A migrant workers group has called on the Philippine government to extend help to foreign domestic workers who have been left stranded by the new flight ban imposed on the country by Hong Kong.

“We want the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to step up and ensure that all stranded OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) are given aid,” said Dolores Balladares-Pelaez, chairperson of United Filipinos-Migrante and Bayan Muna Partylist in Hong Kong.

“Live up to your name! Ensure our welfare.”


Her call came amid a widespread clamor for help from an estimated 6,000 Hong Kong-bound workers in the Philippines, many of whom have waited for months to leave because of limited quarantine spaces allotted to them in the city.

In an online interview with The SUN Thursday, OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac said no immediate funds were available for those who have been stuck in the Philippines as a result of the flight ban.

Pindutin para sa detalye

But Cacdac said he would relay the concerns of the workers to responsible officials.

"Idudulog ko rin po kay (Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III) at sa OWWA Board para tingnan kung may tulong na maibibigay."

Cacdac promises to look for funds for workers stranded by the flight ban

The ban on passenger flights from the Philippines which has now been extended for another fortnight, or until Feb. 4, means they will have to wait even longer.

While there is no corresponding ban on flights from Hong Kong to Manila, airlines would be less likely to fly this route because of low passenger volume, thus causing flight cancellations on this end as well.

Worse, the outlook for lifting the ban on the rescheduled date is bleak because of the surge in Covid-19 cases in the Philippines. Today, Jan 15, the country posted its third daily record high of 39,004 cases, which also raised the number of active cases to 280,183, the highest since the pandemic broke out two years ago.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Pelaez said the government of President Rodrigo Duterte should be blamed for the unprecedented rise in the number of infected persons in the country.

“We want the Duterte government to (account for) this Omicron mess. We are worried for our families back home, now that the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc in the Philippines,” she said.

Pelaez said the spread of the highly infectious variant exposed anew the dismal health system and what it calls as the government’s “inept and militaristic” approach to solving the pandemic.


She lamented the shortage of basic flu medicines, and the forcible isolation of the unvaccinated instead of encouraging them to take the jab.

“But it is even more alarming that the cases are reaching 30,000 in one day, with the hospitals full and healthcare workers exhausted to the bone,” Pelaez said.


She said the government should focus more on mass testing instead of militarism; systematic contact tracing, not false promises; and aid, not negligence.

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