4,000 OFWs stranded in Metro Manila after Red Cross stopped services due to PhilHealth's huge debt - Bello
At least 4,000 returning overseas Filipino workers have been stranded in Metro Manila since the Philippine Red Cross has stopped its coronavirus disease tests last week due to unpaid debt of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said on Tuesday.
In a televised press briefing, the Department of Labor and Employment chief said his office expects to repatriate about 100,000 OFWs until the end of this year.
"Now, the problem about Red Cross not conducting the swabbing test, we are now faced with another stranding of our OFWs. Whereas before, we succeeded in bringing home or treating our OFWs at the rate of 1,000 to 3,000 a day. Now, we are talking of only about a maximum of 300 a day," Bello said.
"We are talking at least 4,000 plus now stranded in Metro Manila," he added.
He said DOLE is facing a problem as OFWs have to stay longer, beyond one week as compared to three to four days before.
"Now, they are staying already beyond one week, and that’s our problem, in terms of expenses and in terms of taking care of our OFWs. So, the sooner this issue of payment is resolved, the better for our OFWs and the better for the finances of our government," Bello said.
The returning OFWs were among those being catered by Red Cross.
But last week, PRC decided to stop the test of the OFWs, some government healthcare workers and other individuals covered by PhilHealth after the latter's debt ballooned to P930 million.
The agency headed by Senator Richard Gordon is asking PhilHealth to pay its debt before it resumes its services. Celerina Monte/DMS