Empathizing with the plight of hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates, most of whom are already unemployed and stranded there for months, Senator Dick Gordon is pushing for more passenger flights to bring them home.
Gordon, chairman and CEO of the Philippine Red Cross wrote to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and proposed that the airports in Clark, Subic, and Mactan be opened for flights carrying OFWs.
The veteran legislator pointed out that while the need for precautions prompted the government to impose a limitation of 400 arrivals a day at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, the predicament of the OFWs should also be taken into consideration and their suffering should be alleviated.
“I think it would not be a problem, if we allow more flights to come in and distribute them to other airports.”
“I’m aware that we have to take precautions, but I think it would not be a problem, if we allow more flights to come in and distribute them to other airports such as Clark, Subic, and Mactan,” the seasoned lawmaker said in a letter to Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., IATF’s chief implementer, and his deputy, Vivencio Dizon, who is also president and CEO of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority.
Gordon assured that diverting flights to the airports in Clark, Subic and Mactan will pose little risk to efforts to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease as Red Cross testing centers can be operational within the week in the said areas. They have hotel capabilities as well, he added.
“I have also received emails pleading for help about their situation.”
“I’m sure your prompt action would be greatly appreciated by our kababayans in the Middle East whose suffering would be alleviated because they will be able to come home to their families. It must be very hard, being stranded and jobless in a foreign land, far away from your loved ones, and unsure of where to get money for your next meal and other daily needs. I have also received emails pleading for help about their situation,” the senator stressed.
The Philippine Embassy in the UAE earlier wrote to the IATF seeking assistance for the hundreds of OFWs who are unable to return to Manila. They have been stranded because Emirates and Etihad airlines canceled several repatriation flights from Dubai to Manila after airports in the Philippines were temporarily closed to passenger flights due to the pandemic.