MANILA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Labor chief Silvestre Bello on Wednesday said that around 345,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bello, the Department of Labor and Employment Secretary, told in a virtual Senate hearing that due to the current and future impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the remittances from OFWs may decrease by up to 40 percent or around 13 billion U.S. dollars this year.
Of the over 345,000 current displaced OFWs, Bello said 191,000 have opted to stay abroad while around 59,000 have already been repatriated as of June 23.
He added that 42,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated in the coming weeks.
The Philippine central bank said earlier that the displacement of OFWs may drag the Philippines' gross domestic product (GDP) growth down by 0.4 percent this year.
The government estimates the number of overseas Filipino workers at 10 million, accounting for one-tenth of the country's population.
Remittances, or the money sent home by overseas workers to help support their families, have become the single most important source of foreign exchange for the Philippine economy and a significant source of income for recipient families.
The Philippine central bank data showed that personal remittances sent home by overseas Filipinos in 2019 reached a record high of 33.5 billion U.S. dollars in 2019. Enditem