MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Four days after a Xiamen Air plane skidded off Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) international runway 06/24, thousands of passengers – mostly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) – were still dealing with cancelled or delayed flights on Monday, August 20.
But the OFWs, who were either flying home or returning to the countries of employment, faced not just the trouble of getting on plane. There’s the risk of them losing their overseas jobs if they didn’t get to their employers on time, said advocacy group Migrante.
“The NAIA runway closure…presents a grave impact on the job security of affected OFWs. What the authorities failed to give weight to is that many of those OFWs who were caught in the NAIA mishap will face possible termination,” said Migrante in a statement on Monday.
Airport authorities reopened the NAIA runway late Saturday night, August 18, some 36 hours after the accident Thursday. However, the domino effect – cancelled, diverted, and delayed flights – was still being felt in airports in Manila and abroad 4 days later, with many stranded passengers comparing NAIA to an evacuation center.
“This is reflective of the government’s inefficiency and lack of readiness to respond to minor airport woes at a time when it is flaunting its ‘Build, Build, Build’ infrastructure program,” Migrante said.
The advocacy group for OFW welfare also said a public apology for the accident is not enough, and responsible parties should pay up.
“A public apology will not suffice if those behind the NAIA blunder will not be held responsible and the distressed OFW passengers are not compensated for the aggravation they endured and consequently will go through,” Migrante said.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a Sunday interview with ANC that the government agency is assisting affected OFWs at the airport by providing their immediate needs on the ground.
“We are all hands on deck…. The flights have normalized in general. It’s just that we have to address those whose flights have been cancelled last Friday and Saturday,” Cacdac said.
Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal also said they are willing to provide OFWs certification about the flight delay so they can show something to their employers as proof.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said on Monday it would direct Philippine embassies to issue certifications that OFWs can present to their employers to prove the valid reason for their delayed return.
Below are some comments of netizens days after the NAIA mishap.