MANILA, Philippines — The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic and seeking repatriation continues to increase.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said over 7,000 OFWs have registered in less than a week since the government launched the OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS).
“There are about 7,229 OFWs who have already registered with OASIS. Roughly this number translates to a daily average of 1,204 registrations,” Bello said.
While over 300,000 OFWs have been displaced by the pandemic, DOLE previously reported that a majority of them would rather stay abroad than come back home.
Bello said the number of online registrants is expected to sharply increase as more OFWs and their families learn about the OASIS tracking system.
DOLE created the OASIS in a bid to facilitate an orderly repatriation of the huge number of OFWs who have been affected by the pandemic and opt to go back home.
With the system, DOLE hopes to generate data on how many OFWs were rendered jobless or under no-work-no-pay policy and give DOLE an idea on appropriate assistance to be provided.
DOLE will also be able to identify the skills of the returning workers and refer them to new employment or the department can provide them alternative livelihood.
Bello ordered all the Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) to encourage OFWs, particularly those set to go home, to register five days before their scheduled arrival.
“My directive is for the POLOs to ensure the widest use of OASIS so we can better manage the repatriation, testing, quarantine and transportation of the OFWs to their communities,” Bello stressed.
For those who may not be able to register online, Bello ordered POLOs to distribute hard copies of the OASIS form so that OFWs can fill these up manually and submit to the POLOs.
DOLE will be submitting the data gathered through the tracking system to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).
All frontliners who may acquire the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at work are entitled to receive additional compensation, according to the Employees Compensation Commission.
ECC executive director Stella Banawis said aside from compensation, beneficiaries of frontline workers who may die of COVID are also getting monthly pension.
Banawis said the beneficiaries are entitled to death benefits or survivorship pension which is computed based on the number and amount of premium contributions paid by the employer.
“The minimum EC survivorship pension for private sector workers is P2,000 per month,” Banawis noted.
She said EC funeral benefit amounting to P30,000 shall also be provided to frontline workers from both the private and public sector.
Not only health workers but other frontliners could avail themselves of benefits under the Employees’ Compensation program, she said.
Banawis said among the frontline workers are doctors, nurses, uniformed personnel, hospital support staff, pharmacists, employees of food industries, supermarket personnel and security guards who have an employee-employer relationship.
Frontline workers who tested positive for COVID, Banawis said, may file for an Employees’ Compensation claim at any Social Security System (SSS) or Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) branch nearest them.
Beneficiaries can avail themselves of the daily sickness benefit for temporary or disability and medical benefits.
If the worker dies due to COVID-19, the family can claim death with funeral benefits.
Daily sickness benefit given to beneficiaries is at a maximum of P480 up to 120 days and could be extended to 240 days for private sector employees.
Banawis said for the government sector, the maximum daily income benefit is P200 or P340 if worker opts to avail himself of sickness benefit under the GSIS Law.
“This does not require the exhaustion of leave credits to avail the daily sickness benefit,” she added.
Beneficiaries could also reimburse medical expenses incurred in the treatment of COVID.
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