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Pinoy seafarer deployment declined 99.03 % year-on-year (April 2019-April 2020); overall OFW deployment plunges from 30k to only 47

From 30K to 47: Deployment of OFWs plunges as nations grapple with COVID-19
Neil Arwin Mercado - May 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — It could be said that as the world grappled with the debilitating effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) not just in health but also in the economy, one of the most affected sector in the Philippines was that of overseas Filipino workers who were either stranded or were forced to return home due to the travel bans enforced by different countries.

According to figures provided by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on Friday, the deployment of new OFWs nosedived from the number of April 2019, from a high of 30,000 to just 47 for the same period this year.

During the online meeting of the House committee on overseas workers affairs, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said this figure comprised of a 99.85 percent decline in deployment of new OFWs for that period, when practically all nations around the world have recorded COVID-19 infections and have opted not to allow transit of foreigners or foreign workers so as to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Figures from the January to March also showed decline.

January 2019: 27,612 new OFWs deployed
January 2020: 23, 165 new OFWs deployed
February 2019: 37,833 new OFWs deployed
February 2020: 30,583 new OFWs deployed
March 2019: 39,651 new OFWs deployed
March 2020: 17,139 new OFWs deployed

Olalia, meanwhile, said that there was an increase in the number of “balik manggagawa,” or OFWs returning abroad after being hired again, in January 2020.

From 185,450 in January 2019, a total of 196,851 re-hired OFWs were deployed in January 2020.

“Probably this is due to anticipation of COVID kasi mayroon na pong announcement nung January,” Olalia said.

But from February 2020 to April 2020, Olalia said the total number of re-hired OFWs has declined. In April 2020, there was a decline of 99.48 percent compared to data from April 2019.

February 2019: 92,196 re-hired OFWs deployed
February 2020: 76,779 re-hired OFWs deployed
March 2019: 74,356 re-hired OFWs deployed
March 2020: 32,553 re-hired OFWs deployed
April 2019: 128,183 re-hired OFWs deployed
April 2020: 667 re-hired OFWs deployed

The same is the case for sea-based OFW due to travel restrictions that delayed crew changes, said Olalia.

Olalia said there was a decline of 99.03 percent in the deployment of sea-based OFWs in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

“Last year ang total deployment natin for seafarers ay 519,031 so itong mga darating na buwan, itong May and June, we expect and anticipate a lot of seafarers coming home because of crew change,” Olalia said.

In the same hearing, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola reported that 28,589 overseas Filipinos have returned to the country as of May 21.