Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) saw a 75-percent decline in 2020 compared to recent years, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) reported on Thursday.

In a Laging Handa briefing, POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia said both land- and sea-based deployments saw a drop last year.

“Iyong atin pong deployment last year ay bumagsak kumpara po sa mga nakaraang taon noong 2016, 2017 at 2018 and ’19. Sa amin pong datos, nasa mahigit 70 to 75 percent po ng both land-based and sea-based po iyong apektado ng decline,” he said.

The POEA had imposed a ban on the deployment of healthcare workers in 2020. It was lifted in November 2020 by President Rodrigo Duterte but mandated that only 5,000 “new hires” were to be deployed every year.

The Department of Foreign Affairs earlier reported that it had repatriated 327,511 in 2020.

More than 70 percent of the total were land-based repatriates, while 29.3 percent were seafarers from cruise ships, oil tankers and other bulk vessels.

The breakdown of repatriates is as follows:

Middle East – 228,893 or 69.89%
Asia & the Pacific – 36,868 or 11.26%
Americas – 30,971 or 9.46%
Europe – 28,909 or 8.83%
Africa – 1,870 or 0.57% John Ezekiel J. Hirro