The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is ready to aid Macau-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have contracted Covid-19 from the recent surge or will be affected by the weeklong suspension of all commercial and industrial business activities from 11 – 18 July 2022.
DMW Secretary Susan “Toots” V. Ople urged OFWs in Macau to cooperate with its government by staying home and complying with health protocols that are meant to disrupt community transmission of the said virus.
The Macau Government reports there are 26,400 overseas Filipino workers in the Special Administrative Region (SAR), with half of them employed as household workers. Unlike in Hong Kong, most of the household workers in Macau stay in their own flats, under a “live-out” arrangement.
Ople, together with DFA Acting Migrant Workers’ Undersecretary Eddie de Vega, met via teleconference over the weekend with officials of the Philippine Consulate in Macau led by Consul-General Porfirio Mayo, Jr. as well as leaders of the Filipino communities to harmonize efforts to reach out to as many affected OFWs as possible.
“Based on the assessment of Labor Attaché Atty. Ma. Nena German, the probability of mass retrenchment of workers during the weeklong suspension of non-essential business activities will not take place. This is purely a health-related and temporary measure meant to disrupt the spread of the coronavirus,” Ople said.
“We are closely monitoring the situation because of the ‘No Pay Leave’ policy that the Macau government has declared for the entire week. Our consul general will be using diplomatic channels to bring our concern over this labor policy to the relevant authorities in Macau. Meanwhile, all hands are on deck to bring as many COVID-care packages and food packs to OFWs who may have neither the means nor the mobility to buy food and medicines,” Ople said.
Impact of Suspension Order on OFWs
On Saturday, 09 July 2022, Macau Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng issued Dispatch of the Chief Executive No. 115 / 2022 ordering a weeklong suspension of all commercial and industrial business activity as well as non-essential businesses including casinos due to the Covid-19 outbreak which started on 18 June 2022.
The suspension order directly affects 5,295 OFWs in the hotel and gaming industries.
Since the start of this most recent Covid-19 surge, all foreign workers are being asked to take the personal Rapid Test every day, and the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAT) every other day in testing facilities funded by the Macau Government.
To date, 57 Filipinos have tested positive in red zones (buildings in lockdown) and yellow zones (control zones) and hotel quarantines while 26 OFWs are in designated hotel quarantine facilities having tested positive for Covid-19 or are close contacts. Meantime, one hundred OFWs were initially provided food packs by the consulate.
OWWA Covid-19 Assistance for Active Members
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Cacdac explains, “active OWWA members who are Covid-19 symptomatic and requiring hospitalization or facility isolation may avail of the agency’s Covid After Care Financial Assistance benefit amounting to US$200.”
“All other OFWs, however, may avail of the food packs provided by the consulate for the duration of the suspension period. These requests for assistance are evaluated in accordance with the OWWAs guidelines,” Cacdac added.
The Philippine Consulate will continue distributing food packs, medicines, and vitamin supplements to the affected OFWs to help tide them through the weeklong suspension period.
OFWs may reach the Philippine Consulate in Macau through the following numbers:
- OWWA: 6258-7887
- POLO: 6687-2509
They may also connect with their Filipino community associations and networks to relay their requests to the consulate.