MANILA, May 27 (Mabuhay) — Distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who lost their jobs and want to return to their homeland will be repatriated, President Rodrigo Duterte said late Wednesday night.

Duterte reiterated his promise to repatriate all OFWs who lost their jobs, noting that it pained him to see them suffer from the impact of the pandemic.

“Masakit sa akin yung mga Pilipino mag-uwi dahil nga sa pandemic. Masakit sa akin mawalan sila ng trabaho at medyo ubos ang pera (It pains me to see Filipinos return home because of the pandemic. It pains me to know that they lost their jobs and are losing money)…long way to come home,” he said in a pre-recorded public address.

He said if an OFW wanted to return home, the government would arrange for his or her immediate repatriation.

“So kung sino talaga yung mga Pilipino na gustong umuwi (So, whoever Filipino wants to return home), we will do everything to expedite the return to the country which is the Philippines. Mahal ko kayo (I love you all),” he added.

Duterte also assured that the government would provide them with cash assistance as well as jobs and livelihood.

Meanwhile, he also expressed appreciation to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana for helping ensure that OFWs safely return home.

“I really appreciate what you’re doing. It’s a burden really tanggapin yung mga Pilipino (to accept Filipinos), which I appreciate very much,” he told Lorenzana.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier said Duterte approved the release of an additional PHP5.2 billion for the repatriation and quarantine expenses of returning OFWs.

He said the budget for hotel, transportation, and food expenses of returning OFW under the 2021 national budget could run out this May.

Lorenzana said over 500,000 OFWs displaced by the pandemic have since returned home.

Thousands of other OFWs are currently staying in various isolation facilities following their repatriation. (MNS)

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