Overseas Filipino Workers’ lifelines hit by coronavirus pandemic

The economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis could hit the Philippines drastically because the country relies heavily on remittances from its Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). With an estimated ten to twelve million Filipinos working abroad, what has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation is likely to disrupt the flow of remittances as the outbreak threatens to leave tens of thousands of workers reliant on jobs overseas stranded.

Earlier this week, Kuwait and Qatar announced temporary entry bans on travelers from the Philippines. Saudi Arabia, home to about 1.2 million Filipino workers – the largest OFW population worldwide  –, which already banned tourist arrivals from the Philippines, on March 12 stopped all flights to and from the country but said it will exempt Filipinos working in healthcare in the country from the travel ban.

Kuwait, home to more than 200,000 Filipinos workers, announced its temporary ban on March 6, while Qatar, home to about 236,000 Filipinos, did the same on March 9.

Philippine Overseas Employment Agency head Bernard Olalia said that up to 3,000 Filipinos were immediately affected by the bans, with some Qatar-based workers forced to turn back after boarding planes to Doha, Al Jazeera reported.

More travel bans expected to follow

Both bans are likely to remain in place in the near future and will probably be followed by bans from other countries, which would significantly affect the Philippine economy, recruitment officials warned.

For instance, more than 100,000 Filipinos reside in Italy, which announced a nationwide lockdown on March 9 owing to the coronavirus. About 120,000 Filipinos work on cruise ships around the world and their jobs could also be under threat as the virus cripples the industry. The UAE, an important hub for the cruise ship industry, was the latest country to ban all cruise vessels from docking at its ports.

Workers barred by the Philippines from traveling to China are entitled to subsidies of 10,000 pesos ($195). The government payments were earlier extended to workers unable to return to their jobs in Hong Kong and Macau before the Philippines lifted travel bans to those territories. No decision has been made yet on giving similar handouts to workers unable to travel to Kuwait and Qatar.

Meanwhile, domestic workers in the Philippines could also be affected. The business process outsourcing industry within the Philippines, which serves mostly US companies and employs more than one million Filipinos, could also be under threat as the coronavirus is spreading in North America and disrupting the economy.

In 2019, OFWs sent home around $35 billion in remittances, accounting for close to ten per cent of the Philippine GDP, according to the World Bank.



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The economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis could hit the Philippines drastically because the country relies heavily on remittances from its Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). With an estimated ten to twelve million Filipinos working abroad, what has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation is likely to disrupt the flow of remittances as the outbreak threatens to leave tens of thousands of workers reliant on jobs overseas stranded. Earlier this week, Kuwait and Qatar announced temporary entry bans on travelers from the Philippines. Saudi Arabia, home to about 1.2 million Filipino workers – the largest OFW population...

The economic fallout of the coronavirus crisis could hit the Philippines drastically because the country relies heavily on remittances from its Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW). With an estimated ten to twelve million Filipinos working abroad, what has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation is likely to disrupt the flow of remittances as the outbreak threatens to leave tens of thousands of workers reliant on jobs overseas stranded.

Earlier this week, Kuwait and Qatar announced temporary entry bans on travelers from the Philippines. Saudi Arabia, home to about 1.2 million Filipino workers – the largest OFW population worldwide  –, which already banned tourist arrivals from the Philippines, on March 12 stopped all flights to and from the country but said it will exempt Filipinos working in healthcare in the country from the travel ban.

Kuwait, home to more than 200,000 Filipinos workers, announced its temporary ban on March 6, while Qatar, home to about 236,000 Filipinos, did the same on March 9.

Philippine Overseas Employment Agency head Bernard Olalia said that up to 3,000 Filipinos were immediately affected by the bans, with some Qatar-based workers forced to turn back after boarding planes to Doha, Al Jazeera reported.

More travel bans expected to follow

Both bans are likely to remain in place in the near future and will probably be followed by bans from other countries, which would significantly affect the Philippine economy, recruitment officials warned.

For instance, more than 100,000 Filipinos reside in Italy, which announced a nationwide lockdown on March 9 owing to the coronavirus. About 120,000 Filipinos work on cruise ships around the world and their jobs could also be under threat as the virus cripples the industry. The UAE, an important hub for the cruise ship industry, was the latest country to ban all cruise vessels from docking at its ports.

Workers barred by the Philippines from traveling to China are entitled to subsidies of 10,000 pesos ($195). The government payments were earlier extended to workers unable to return to their jobs in Hong Kong and Macau before the Philippines lifted travel bans to those territories. No decision has been made yet on giving similar handouts to workers unable to travel to Kuwait and Qatar.

Meanwhile, domestic workers in the Philippines could also be affected. The business process outsourcing industry within the Philippines, which serves mostly US companies and employs more than one million Filipinos, could also be under threat as the coronavirus is spreading in North America and disrupting the economy.

In 2019, OFWs sent home around $35 billion in remittances, accounting for close to ten per cent of the Philippine GDP, according to the World Bank.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

$
Personal Info

Donation Total: $10.00

 

 

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