MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) based in recently unstable areas are reported safe, the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) said on Friday, August 12.
In the department’s first press conference with newly sworn in officials, DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople said that Filipinos were safe in Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, and Macau.
On August 4, China fired live missiles near Taiwan following a visit from US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In South Korea, recent torrential rains caused flooding that killed at least nine people and brought damage to homes and buildings.
Recent clashes in Israel occurred in relation to its conflict with Palestine. Macau also restricted operations of non-essential businesses as part of a pandemic measure, but it began easing restrictions since COVID-19 cases dropped around August.
“Life is returning to normal especially in areas that are of high risk to our OFWs due to recent events in Taiwan and Israel,” said Ople, adding that OFWs in Macau were going back to work.
Following the tension brought by the missiles, Philippine labor attaché David Des Dicang reached out to 30 of the 49 OFWs on Kinmen islands, who were “all safe and under the care of their employers,” Ople said. The 30 OFWs included one teacher and 29 caretakers.
OFWs in China and Taiwan are back to “business as usual,” the secretary said.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said it fired flares late on Friday, August 5, to warn away drones flying over its Kinmen islands, which are close to mainland China’s coast.
Ople said she instructed the Philippines’ three labor attachés in Taiwan to remain vigilant and visible to OFWs and their employers. “China has ended its military drill and we are hopeful that the tensions will dissipate in time,” she said.
In Israel, Philippine labor attaché Rodolfo Gabasan told the DMW that around 200 caregivers in the cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, and Sderot, and in surrounding areas near Gaza were barrages of rockets were fired in early August are all safe.
Israel struck in Gaza, and Palestinians fired rockets at Israeli cities on August 6. Israel said it struck Islamic Jihad militants preparing to launch rockets and militant posts. Additional bombings targeted at least five houses, witnesses said, sending huge clouds of smoke and debris into the air as explosions rocked Gaza City.
Egypt brokered a ceasefire on August 7.
South Korea, Macau
Torrential rains that caused flooding in Seoul and Incheon in South Korea from August 8 to 9 left at least nine people killed, 17 people injured, and seven missing.
“Ang good news, wala namang Pilipino na nasaktan o nasawi (The good news is no Filipino was injured or killed),” said Ople.
It’s also “back to business in Macau” after several days of no new daily COVID-19 cases reported. The Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Macau has reportedly delivered 824 care packages and supermarket vouchers to OFWs.
Around 70 OFWs who tested positive for COVID-19 were given $200 in aid.
In July, Macau imposed a temporary daily COVID-19 testing requirement for Filipinos exclusively, which caused backlash for allegedly being “racist” and “discriminatory.” – with reports from Reuters/Rappler.com