Overseas Filipino workers in Singapore are in a relatively good living and working condition. This was highlighted by Labor Attache Saul T. De Vries during his guest appearance today at the V-Cafe@DOLE, a virtual media kapihan on the day’s current issues and labor developments aired by theDepartment of Labor and Employment.
De Vries, however, noted that like in other countries, the COVID-19 global pandemic also adversely affected some OFWs in Singapore, particularly, those working in the sectors of wholesale and retail trade; accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment and recreation; and aviation. He said that around 6,000 OFWs in these sectors were displaced since the onset of the pandemic last year. OFW deployment to the city-state also nosedived by as much as 80% based on the date from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
The Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office have supported these OFWs by providing them with financial assistance through the DOLE-Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong Program (AKAP), repatriation assistance through special flights organized by the Philippine Embassy, relief and care packs, psychosocial counseling and endorsements of their application for special pass extension. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration in Singapore also provided cash assistance to eligible COVID-19 infected OFWs.
De Vries also said that OFWs who remain in Singapore are eligible to avail of the free vaccination program of the host government. The city-state is one of the first South East Asian countries to administer vaccine doses to their citizens and residents. Since its vaccine roll out in late December 2020, Singapore has administered more than 4 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. At least 1.7 million have completed full vaccination regimen while more than 2.2 million have received first dose. Most Filipino healthcare and frontline workers in Singapore may have already been vaccinated since they belong to the priority groups for vaccination, De Vries added.
Singapore is currently on a heightened alert status due to the resurgence of community cases. Hence, the government has suspended entry approval applications for foreign workers coming from higher-risk countries including the Philippines. “This is a temporary measure, which may be lifted if situation improves”, De Vries said.
Asked about employment prospects, De Vries noted that the bright spots for jobseekers in the Singapore labor market are in the sectors of healthcare; information and communications; construction; and finance and insurance.###