By John Verghese/Manila
Nearly 100 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) will be flown home to be reunited with their loved ones this month through the efforts of the Philippine Embassy in Qatar and Cebu Pacific Air.
More than 20 repatriated Filipinos were flown home on Cebu Pacific’s maiden Doha-Manila flight on Friday. The Philippine Embassy in Qatar is working on flying home the rest within the month, ahead of the Eid holidays. The repatriated Filipinos will not just come from Qatar, but also from nearby Gulf countries.
“Our kababayans (citizens) who will be part of this maiden Doha-Manila flight are extremely grateful for this opportunity to finally unite with their respective loved ones after their tough circumstances as an OFW. Being able to go home will give them an opportunity to recover under the care of their families and reassess their lives,” Philippine Ambassador to
Qatar Wilfredo C Santos said.
As of December 2014, the number of Filipinos in Qatar is estimated at 198,900. This accounts for 9.2% of the 2,151,000 population of Qatar, including expatriates.
One of the repatriated Filipinos flying home is Marlyn, who has been in Qatar for 10 months.
After she left her employer, she has been in the embassy’s care for the past three weeks.
She said she is looking forward to going home to be with her husband and kids.
“Cebu Pacific is thankful for the opportunity to play a part in bringing home Filipinos in need,” said Alex Reyes, the airline’s general manager for Long-Haul Division.
The airline has been working earnestly with the Philippine embassies and government offices in bringing home repatriated Filipinos in every Middle East route it has opened.
The Philippine Embassy, in co-ordination with the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), continues to provide consular and legal assistance to all distressed Filipino nationals in Qatar.
Apart from this, the embassy also conducts reintegration and capacity-building programmes for OFWs, to enable them to wisely manage their finances, invest in business and also to provide them with additional skills to make them competitive in the international job market.