The number of overseas Filipino workers stranded in various parts of the globe has swelled to nearly 100,000, the labor department reported on Sunday.
Citing reports from the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) in 40 foreign posts, the DOLE command center in Manila recorded a total of 98,615 stranded workers as of Friday, May 29.
The OFWs are either affected by lockdowns in their respective host countries, those distressed seeking to be repatriated or those whose work contracts have expired but cannot return to the Philippines due to the absence of commercial flights.
Of the total stranded OFWs, 83,483 are in the Middle East while 12,050 of them are in Europe and American region and 3,082 in nearby Asian countries.
Most OFWs from the Middle East are land-based totalling 83,380 while those in Europe-Americas are mostly sea-based workers numbering 11,372. Those from Asian countries, 2,110 are mostly land based with the remaining as sea based workers.
Of the total stranded OFWs, about 19,631 have unfinished contracts or distressed needing repatriation in the coming weeks, 11,505 of whom are in the Middle East while close to 6,500 are in Europe and the Americas.
The POLOs have so far recorded the repatriation of 36,625 OFWs since the outbreak of the global pandemic.
Meanwhile, the DOLE command center also reported that all of the more than 24,000 OFWs who were virtually locked up in various quarantine facilities would have been transported to their provinces by Sunday.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III last week ordered the activation of the command center to monitor and direct actions on the repatriation, assistance, reintegration and deployment of OFWs, and prevent a repeat of the seemingly disorderly process in dealing with returning OFWs due to health crisis.
As of Sunday noon, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said that 23,472 OFWs had embarked for their safe homecoming with their families. The clearances of 538 workers are still being awaited.
The Saturday count was 22,426.
All transported OFWs were given clearances after undergoing Covid-19 tests following prolonged quarantine in government designated facilities.
OWWA had so far spent over P700 million for the repatriation, transport, accommodation and food of the more than 30,000 returning OFWs.