OWWA reports assistance to OFWs affected by COVID-19; halts Hatid-Sundo service beginning March 30

PASAY CITY - From March 17 to 29, 2020, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) has assisted 2,973 stranded OFWS in the country, extending them food, transport, and accommodation when the Enhanced Community Quarantine (EQC) was imposed in Luzon to combat the further spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus.

The stranded migrant workers, either arriving or departing OFWs, were afforded with transport service in going to or from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). Dubbed as Hatid-Sundo sa Stranded OFWs in Luzon, OWWA dispatched buses to originate from NAIA to ply four (4) routes – NAIA to Dau, Pampanga; NAIA to Calamba, Turbina; NAIA to Quiapo, Commonwealth; and NAIA to EDSA, Monumento. The Hatid-Sundo buses served a total of 1,958 OFWs, most of them reunited with their families and the rest brought to the NAIA to depart for their countries of destination.

For their part, the OWWA Regional Welfare Offices mobilized their respective transport systems to pick up the arriving OFWs from the drop-off points in Dau and Turbina and took them to their home provinces/cities/municipalities in Northern and Southern Luzon.

Meanwhile, 652 OFWs bound for Visayas and Mindanao were provided with food and were billeted in various hotels around Metro Manila as they wait for their scheduled flights to their home provinces. The 363 OFWs who landed in NAIA but ended up in the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga were likewise provided with food, lodging, and transport assistance.

OWWA has expended P3.7M, or P1,245 per OFW, for the Luzon assistance alone.

Overseas, distribution of food packs and hygiene kits were conducted by OWWA welfare offices in Israel, Bahrain, Macau, Greece, Singapore, and Japan. A total of 2,758 hygiene kits were given to OFWs in Bahrain, Greece, Singapore, and Japan while 680 food packs were given to OFWs in Israel, Bahrain, and Macau.

Suspension of Hatid-Sundo, Cash assistance to OFWs

With more lockdowns announced in other parts of the country due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac announced the momentary suspension of the Hatid-Sundo service in Luzon beginning March 30 until further notice.

“This is to give our drivers, nurses, bus monitors, dispatchers, luggage handlers, airport coordinators and repatriation personnel a chance to recharge after all their intense, hard work. I thank them for their onhand service to our OFWs since March 16,” Admin Cacdac said.

However, he added that “airport assistance and accommodation service within NCR for returning OFWs shall continue,” after soliciting the support of the Department of Transportation and the Department of Tourism to afford these essential services to the stranded OFWs.

Cognizant of the announcement of the Department of Labor and Employment in granting financial assistance to displaced OFWS affected by the COVID-19, Administrator Cacdac requests all affected OFWs to await the announcement as guidelines are being prepared for its implementation