The government has repatriated 348 overseas Filipino workers from Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the fourth batch of repatriation since travel restrictions were declared last month in seven countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
The repatriates left UAE on Saturday and arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport yesterday morning via Philippine Airlines, the Department of Labor and Employment said.
The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration OWWA shouldered the cost of the chartered flight while the repatriation was processed in coordination with the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai.
Some 2,000 OFWs and their families from the emirates are eyed for repatriation.
The first three batches were led by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Four more DOLE-OWWA repatriation flights are set today, on July 17, 27, and 30.
The repatriates included 67 pregnant OFWs, 30 with medical cases, six housed at the Bahay Kalinga in Dubai, and two from the Bahay Kalinga in Abu Dhabi.
The rest of the OFWs were those whose flights were canceled, or who overstayed.
One of the passengers was a household service worker, who sought shelter at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Dubai, after chancing upon an OWWA personnel at the airport.
Her employer bought her ticket and left her at the Dubai airport on July 5. She failed to board her flight, which consisted of several layovers and connecting flights.
The repatriated OFWs will undergo quarantine and will be transported to their hometowns once they test negative for Covid-19.
OWWA will also spend for hotel accommodation and food while the OFWs await their test results.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed the conduct of special commercial flights to bring home OFWs who were stranded in the Middle East and other countries covered by the inbound travel ban.
A Special Working Group was created to determine the implementing protocols for the special commercial flights, in coordination with airlines.
Among the members are OWWA, Department of Health, Bureau of Quarantine, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Transportation and its One-Stop-Shop, Philippine Coast Guard, and Department of Tourism.
The travel restrictions on travelers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Oman, and the UAE, issued early June, have been extended until July 15 due to the threat posed by the Delta coronavirus variant.*PR/PNA