Tracking system for OFWs launched

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    WITH 300,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) projected to return home this year due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, an online tracking system that can help facilitate their repatriation was launched yesterday by the Department of Labor and Employment.

    Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the OFW Assistance Information System (OASIS) is aimed at ensuring “efficient and timely assistance” to the returning OFWs.

    The system, he added, will help DOLE identify and classify arriving OFWs in a number of ways to facilitate organized arrival at the airport, efficient swab testing, and rapid pick-up and transport to their respective hotels and homes and other necessary processes.

    “Through this system, the government can track the whereabouts of our returning OFWs and provide them prompt assistance and relief upon their return to the country,” he said.

    “Knowing the airlines the OFWs used, their health condition, local addresses and other relevant data in the tracker will help the government dispense assistance they need,” Bello added.

    For efficient tracking, DOLE encouraged homebound OFWs to register online through oasis.owwa.gov.ph.

    Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said said a female cruise ship worker took her own life while awaiting repatriation.

    It was the second suicide case among OFWs waiting for repatriation.

    Locsin said Mariah Jocson, 28, who was working for the Bahamas-flagged cruise ship Harmony of the Seas, “committed suicide in her cabin in the ship where she’s had to stay because repatriation flights back to the Philippines has been suspended again.”

    “I know our quarantine facilities are jam-packed, I don’t know why,” he added.

    Locsin did not give other details about Jocson.

    He only said the ship’s crewmen were “detained” while they waited for “repeatedly rescinded repatriation flights” to the country.

    The last known location of the cruise ship was in the Caribbean Sea.

    On May 23, a female household service worker in Lebanon also committed suicide in a shelter run by the Philippine Embassy.

    The DFA said it is still investigating the incident.

    At least 36,000 OFWs have been repatriated since February this year, majority of them sea-based workers. – With Ashzel Hachero