MORE THAN 10,500 overseas Filipinos arrived last week amid a coronavirus pandemic that has sickened 21.6 million and killed more than 769,000 people worldwide, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said at the weekend.
Among those who came home through 27 special commercial repatriation flights and two flights chartered by DFA were about 8,100 migrant workers from the Middle East.
The rest came from Seychelles, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Japan, India, China, Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and Greece among other countries.
This brought the total number of repatriated Filipinos to 135,290, the agency said in a statement on Saturday. Of the total, 39% were sea-based, while the rest were land-based.
Meanwhile, DFA said the first batch of distressed workers from Lebanon after an Aug. 4 explosion there would arrive on Monday. The blast at a port warehouse in Beirut killed at least four overseas Filipinos and hurt more than 40 others.
DFA said 9,800 migrant Filipinos have been infected with the coronavirus, 3,300 of whom were being treated, 5,800 have recovered and 725 died.
The House of Representatives has sought to increase the DFA budget for distressed overseas Filipino workers under a bill that will give President Rodrigo R. Duterte special powers to deal with the pandemic.
“With the additional funds, we hope to bring home more of our kababayans by September and December,” Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement on Sunday.
DFA is expecting 90,900 more workers to arrive by September and 100,000 more by December, he said, citing DFA.
The bill provided about P820 million in additional funding to cover expenses of bringing home overseas workers. The counterpart Senate bill does not have a similar provision.
Lawmakers are trying to reconcile conflicting provisions of the bills at a bicameral conference committee. — Charmaine A. Tadalan