Bello: 'No alarming unemployment rate' for OFWs amid coronavirus outbreak
MANILA, Philippines – Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Wednesday, March 4, denied the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak had a severe impact on overseas Filipino workers' employment, as he asserted cases of domestic workers displaced in Hong Kong were only "isolated" incidents.
Bello issued the remarks in a press conference with reporters at the Department of Labor and Employment's headquarters in Manila, saying there was "no alarming rate of unemployment to our overseas workers."
"That’s not true, we’re not losing workers overseas except for some few requests for repatriation. Wala naman ganung (There is no) loss of work if you’re talking of Hong Kong, Japan, and even Taiwan," Bello said.
"There are no incidents of unemployment. There are isolated cases, but by and large, there is no alarming rate of unemployment to our overseas workers," he added.
At least 40 Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong were displaced from work as of Tuesday, March 3, according to figures from the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong, Philippine Overseas Labor Office, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).
According to OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, 35 of the 40 were let go by their employers, who had plans to relocate from the city. Others, he added, were fired in relation to issues regarding days off.
This came after the Hong Kong City’s labor department earlier urged domestic workers not to leave their employers’ homes for their days off, saying it could reduce the risk of transmission. Some employers misunderstood the advisory as mandatory, leaving many workers unable to take days off or punished if they did.
Meanwhile, Bello downplayed challenges that may be faced by affected overseas Filipino workers when looking for new employers. He expressed confidence that many would find work as Filipino workers have become "very indispensable."
"We're not alarmed of any employment loss," he said.
Despite this, Bello assured workers the Philippine government was ready to repatriate them and provide aid in case they returned to the Philippines.
Cacdac earlier said the Philippine government was helping affected Filipino workers in filing complaints related to their right to take days off. Efforts were also being carried out to assist displaced workers in claiming settlements against their employers. – Rappler.com