Pandemic forces over 100,000 overseas Filipinos to return to Philippines

Sofia Tomacruz
DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola says the number of repatriations in the last 6 months 'is a first in the history' of the department

Nearly half a year since the coronavirus crisis began, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it has repatriated over 100,000 Filipinos, most of whom were displaced from work and forced to return home following the shuttering of economies.

DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said the number of repatriations done over the last 6 months “is a first in the history” of the department.

DFA Undersecretary for Consular Affairs Brigido Dulay also said the number of Filipinos repatriated in the last 6 months is near the number of distressed overseas Filipinos brought home for the entire 2019.

An additional 12,022 overseas Filipinos returned home in the past week alone. They include 8,895 Filipinos who came from the Middle East, 1,806 from the Asia-Pacific, 677 from Europe, and 644 from the Americas.

The DFA said most recent repatriates arrived from the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates. 

DFA data showed that of the 102,519 overseas Filipinos repatriated so far, 42.8%  or 43,893 were sea-based workers, while 57.2% or 58,626 were land-based.

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr earlier said the agency is committed to bringing home more Filipinos as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. 

Arriola echoed this, saying, “Pandemic or not, the men and women of the DFA, including those of our embassies and consulates around the world, remain fully committed to bringing home our distressed nationals abroad.” 

The operations are costly, however, with the DFA’s repatriation funds possibly running out by mid-August.

Locsin previously said the agency has canceled its plans to retrofit its headquarters along Roxas Boulevard to provide more funds for repatriation operations. –

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at