High-ranking Filipino diplomatic officials have called on their kababayans (compatriots) who are out of work, have expired visas and are hard-pressed because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic to consider returning home instead of staying in their host country.
The statement was made during the pilot episode of OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) Help Live hosted by Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) undersecretaries Sarah Lou Arriola and Ernesto Abella.
Addressing distressed overseas Filipinos, Arriola, who is the DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs, said: “You have to discern where you will be best situated at this time. Although our resources are finite, we want to assure you that we are doing the best we can.”
“This is an open invitation to overseas Filipinos – documented or not – to come home. You can return abroad later,” underlined Arriola, adding: “If you really find it difficult to live overseas, we are ready to bring you home.”
Arriola said, as of April 16, the Philippine Government has repatriated a total of 14,706 distressed Filipinos from around the world, including 3,127 land-based workers and 11,579 seafarers (including the 415 Filipino seafarers who were stranded in the UAE for six weeks).
Abella, who is the DFA Undersecretary for Strategic Communications and Research, said: “The Philippine government is making a kind offer. The (COVID-19) situation is uncertain. Let us be practical – while the opportunity is there, I think this is the best time to come home.”