Commentary: Worst time ever to be a overseas Filipino worker

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The ongoing pandemic has made the precarity of these workers’ lives all too clear, says an observer.


Undocumented and irregular migrants – and those who work in informal sectors – are more vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19 due to inadequate access to healthcare and already crowded living conditions. Many are entangled in poor working conditions.Domestic helpers from the Philippines gather with their friends at an underpass on a Sunday, the statutory day off for domestic workers, in Hong Kong's Central district.

Previous crisis situations – especially the Gulf War experience that resulted in the biggest repatriation of OFWs prior to COVID-19 – caused the Philippine government to craft a crisis framework. The pandemic requires not only a whole-of-government approach but also of a whole-of-nation approach. It is within this ambit that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte raised the COVID-19 Adjustment Measures Program in his 2020 State of the Nation Address.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth State of the Nation Address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, on Jul 22, 2019. The Philippine government needs to leverage its diplomacy to attract the best deal and avoid resorting right away to providing livelihood programmes for repatriated OFWs.


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