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The COVID-19 and Filipino Migrant Workers: Looking into the Philippine Government’s Post-COVID-19 Support Mechanism

The COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented event that tested the Philippine government’s capacity to keep migrant workers and their families protected and secured. It was not only a matter of a simple repatriation process, but it also entailed a multidimensional system encompassing repatriation, health interventions (e.g., testing for COVID-19, treatment, and health monitoring), accommodation and logistical support for quarantine, and economic interventions in the form of financial grants to eligible workers, among others. Existing policy frameworks have guided government response whenever applicable. However, nothing has prepared the system for the scale of effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought. Thus, managing the influx of returning overseas migrants in the tens and even hundreds of thousands required no less than a whole-of-nation approach. Government agencies involved were forced to expand their networks, innovate their systems, and adapt to changing events. This entailed a range of interrelated activities and programs facilitated by close collaboration and consistent communication among various actors. Based on the findings of the paper, it is crucial to build on the existing digital systems created during this period, strengthen newly formed and existing partnerships, reexamine OFW’s insurance and social protection coverage, and consider the creation of, or expansion of existing, contingency fund to address future events of similar nature and magnitude. 

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