If You’re an OFW, Here’s How to Come Home

In an interview with Communications Secretary Martin Andanar for PTV news, Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola assured that all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), regardless of their migration status, can be given repatriation assistance. She cites that the government is aware that there are a number of workers who have been victims of trafficking and are undocumented, but assures that they will be welcomed by the Philippine embassies across the globe should they seek help in returning home.

If you or a family member are a migrant worker needing repatriation assistance, here’s a rundown of how the government is prepared to help:

1. Contact the Philippine embassy or the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)

“All our embassies are open 24 hours a day,” Usec. Arriola says, adding that these can also be contacted via their respective hotlines and Facebook pages. OFWs and their family members can also approach the Department of Foreign Affairs directly via the 24/7 chat and call services at the OFW Help Facebook page and hotline numbers 0906-442182 and 0908-3442070.

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2. DFA has allocated funds to help pay for legal assistance

Regardless of migration status, Usec. Arriola assured that the DFA is ready to help both documented and undocumented OFWs. “May assistance fund, kung kailangan talaga nila ng abogado kung meron silang mga problema para makauwi,” she said. (“There is an assistance fund if they will be needing a lawyer if they have problems regarding their return home.”)

3. Transport home can also be funded by the DFA

Pwede silang umuwi at humingi ng libreng pasahe sa ating embahade o consulate general,” Usec. Arriola said. (“They can come home and ask for free transport from our embassies or consulate general.”)

4. Endorsement to the Department of Health (DOH) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)

The main responsibility of the DFA is the repatriation of OFWs. Upon their return, they will be endorsed to the DOH for the mandatory health screening and quarantine guidelines, as well as OWWA, who can help with the processing of financial assistance from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

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During the Laging Handa briefing on Monday, Usec. Arriola shared that as of June 7, the DFA has already repatriated 36,731 OFWs: 22,198 seafarers and 14,533 land-based workers. There are also about 30,000 to 35,000 sea-based workers that are set to return to the Philippines as cruise ships have stopped operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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