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600 OFWs arrive from Saudi, Panama and HK

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PHILSTAR/EDD GUMBAN

MORE THAN 600 Filipinos from Saudi Arabia, Panama and Hong Kong came home amid a global coronavirus pandemic that has sickened 10.1 million and killed half-a-million people worldwide.

Of the total, 310 were Filipino workers from Saudi Arabia, while 297 were seafarers from Holland America Line’s MV Koningsdam from Panama and stranded workers from Hong Kong, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a social media post at the weekend.

“With Filipino seafarers comprising a third of the global seafaring industry, DFA remains fully committed to assisting in their safe return,” it said.

The agency said it had repatriated 59,000 overseas Filipinos — 31,688 seafarers and 27,353 land-based workers — since February.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola on Wednesday said they were working to repatriate 27,400 more OFWs in the next three weeks.

She also said two-thirds of the P1-billion fund for returning Filipino workers has been used.

Meanwhile, DFA said it was monitoring 8,432 Filipinos overseas who tested positive for the coronavirus. Of the total, 2,815 were being treated, 5,081 have recovered and 536 died, it added. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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