Philippine labour officials estimate that up to one million Filipino expats across the globe may lose their jobs this year.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has assured overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their livelihood to Covid-19 that – “your government is here to help”.
As he delivered his fifth State of the Nation Address (Sona) in Manila today, Duterte walked the country through the initiatives that the Philippine government has been putting together to help OFWs rebuild their lives back home.
Government agencies have been directed to roll out programmes like skills training, low-interest loans and scholarships for OFWs’ children, he said.
Philippine labour officials estimate that, with the retrenchments being reported in different industries across the world, up to one million Filipino expats could be rendered jobless this year. In a previous interview, Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the crisis affected the jobs of around 343,000 OFWs in the first half of 2020.
From the UAE, about 25,000 Filipinos have flown home on 76 flights since June. In Dubai and the Northern Emirates, the Philippine Consulate-General has so far funded the repatriation of nearly 2,000 expats.
To help OFWs find new jobs, Duterte said: “I asked Tesda (Technical Education and Skills Development Authority) to come up with special training programmes to retool our OFWs so they can find employment opportunities here at home.”
The Philippine president also called on the country’s Commission on Higher Education to roll out scholarship programmes for the “qualified dependents of OFWs”.
Those who need financial assistance to weather the crisis can count on Landbank and other government financial institutions, which were ordered to “continue providing low-interest loans”.
The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry were directed to introduce “agribusiness and entrepreneurship” projects to help the balikbayan (expats who have flown back home) get back on their feet, Duterte said.
“To all my countrymen who have been struggling and working hard abroad, your government is here to help you and your family, especially during these times,” the president stressed.
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