HINIMOK ng House of Representatives committee on public accounts ang Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) laban sa COVID-19 at Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) na payagan umuwi ang 167,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) na nabibinbin sa labas ng Filipinas.
“Our modern-day heroes have been stuck in their host countries since the coronavirus outbreak three months ago. They are now low on funds, if they still have money. They rely on aid from our government and their host countries for food. We should bring them home as soon as possible,” ayon kay Rep. Mike Defensor ng party-list group Anakalusugan.
Si Defensor ang namumuno sa House committee on public accounts.
Aniya, napagkasunduan ng kanyang komite at ng liderato ng Kamara na umapela sa IATF at iba pang ahensiya ng gobyerno na huwag nang pagbawalan ang mga repatriation flights at sa halip ay maglaan ng karagdagang flight para sa OFWs.
Ani Defensor, 1000 OFWs lamang ang pinapayagan ng IATF at CAAP na makasakay ng eroplano bawat araw para makauwi sa kanilang mga bahay sa kabila na 24,000 ang nakahimpil at nabibinbin sa Metro Manila tatlong linggo na ang nakararaan.
“We can give priority to OFWs who have purchased plane tickets on their own or with the help of their employers and our government. There are thousands of them in the Middle East, particularly in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. They are not allowed to board commercial flights due to the IATF prohibition,” ani Defensor.
“With go-signal from the IATF and CAAP for their flights, these workers can already be home in days. Many airlines, including Emirates and Qatar, was willing to accept them. Since they will fly commercial, they will be home at no cost to the government,” dagdag ni Defensor.
Aniya, ang reklamo ang mga OFW sa Kamara sa pamamagitan ng video conferencing, kahit may mga ticket na sila, hindi pa rin makauuwi “because concerned agencies here in our country would not clear them.”
“Many of them are already desperate. They have been jobless for more than three months now. They want to go home and be with their families. Let’s get them home,” ani Defensor.
Nakatali, aniya ang kamay ng Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) at Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) sa pagpapauwi sa mga OFW dahil sa 1000 limit kada araw na ipinapatupad ng IATF.
Aniya, may suhestiyon si Philippine Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Adnan Alonto na ipasundo ang OFWs sa barko ng Navy o mag-upa ng cruise ship para makasakay ang mga OFW.
Sinabi ni Alonto kay Defensor, 88,000 OFWs ang nasa Saudi Arabia na naghihintay makauwi. Mayroon din, aniyang, 3,500 hangang 4,000 na manggagawa na nasa UAE at Qatar. (GERRY BALDO)