By Marita Moaje

SAFELY HOME. Department of Migrant Workers officer-in-charge Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac briefs the 32 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Israel that arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Friday (Nov. 17, 2023). This is the 8th batch of OFW returnees from Israel bringing to 264 the total number of Filipinos brought home by the Philippine government. (Photo courtesy of DMW)

MANILA – The 8th batch of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Israel composed of 32 individuals and an infant, and the third batch of four individuals from Lebanon arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport-Terminal 3 on Friday.

Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) office-in-charge Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said that this brings to a total of 264 OFWs and nine children repatriated by the Philippine government from Israel, and 28 from Lebanon since the Israel-Hamas conflict erupted in early October.

Of the 32 OFWs from Israel, the DMW said that eight are hotel workers, while the remaining 24 are caregivers.

Cacdac said more are returning to the country in the coming weeks.

“In Lebanon, we are processing around 150, and counting, because, as you know, it takes a little longer in Lebanon due to the immigration concerns of some of our kababayans (countrymen) there, and having to go through Lebanese General Services, their acting immigration authority there. In Israel, our pending is 83,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank, Cacdac said the DMW has already brought home two OFWs, while four are still pending and under process.

OFW repatriates receive financial assistance of PHP100,000 from the DMW and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), medical and psychosocial screening by the Department of Health (DOH), livelihood assistance from the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Reintegration Center under DMW and OWWA, skills training voucher from the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and employment facilitation from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

Next week, Cacdac said that there is a scheduled “Kumustahan” session with those who have arrived these past weeks.

Kakamustahin namin sila and ifi-firm up namin sino gustong mag negosyo, sino gustong magtrabaho. Binigyan lang namin sila ng akmang panahon para makapiling nila yung mga mahal nila sa buhay kasi syempre galing sila sa hindi pangkariwang pangyayari, hinayaan muna natin sila (We will check on them and we will firm up [the list], who wants to start a business, who wants to look for work. We just gave them enough time to be with their loved ones, especially since they came from extraordinary circumstances. We just gave them) time for their families, and now, it’s time to regroup and ask them about their livelihood and employment options,” he said. (PNA)