Ople asks labor attaches to help stranded OFWs
MANILA, Philippines — Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople has ordered labor attaches to help overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) explain to their employers the delay in their return to work after a power outage and technical glitch led to the cancellation, diversion, or delay of flights in and out of Manila on Jan. 1.
Undersecretary Hans Cacdac said during Wednesday’s Laging Handa press briefing that the Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) has so far helped 3,000 OFWs left stranded at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia), providing them with food packs and assisting them in the rebooking of their flights.
He also said that the DMW would assist OFWs with their hotel accommodations until they are able to fly out of the country.
“If they have concerns with their employers asking why they were delayed in arriving in the host country, we will help them. Secretary Toots (Ople) has a directive to her labor attaches to talk to the employers who have questions or clarifications related to the cancellation of flights,” Cacdac said.
Secure and unaffected
In an advisory dated Jan. 3, Ople also ordered all private recruitment agencies (PRAs) and licensed manning agencies (LMAs) to help Filipino workers explain to their principals the reason behind their delayed departure from Manila.
This was to ensure that their employment would be “secure and unaffected,” Ople said. At the same time, she directed PRAs and LMAs to submit necessary reports on the affected workers and to extend to them assistance as much as possible.
On Jan. 1, around 56,000 passengers were stranded at Naia and other gateways after 361 flights to and from Manila were grounded due to a power outage and technical glitch that affected the air navigation facilities of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP).
CAAP Director General Capt. Manuel Tamayo said that the communications, navigation, and surveillance/air traffic management (CNS/ATM) was outdated and overdue for an upgrade. Transport Secretary Jaime Bautista, a former airline executive, also cited the need for a backup for the CNS/ATM system. Several senators have expressed their intention to conduct an investigation into the incident with Sen. Grace Poe describing it as a matter of “national security” and safety.
“We will conduct an inquiry and direct them to submit a full report of what caused the supposed glitch and power outage. This is a national security concern. Thousands of lives depend on the efficiency and competence of CAAP,” she said.