Filipino Fishermen Stranded in Fiji Return Home
A special charter flight carrying thirty-six (36) Filipino fishermen who were stranded in Fiji for more than two months arrived safely at Davao International Airport on 05 November 2021. They were met and assisted by Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) personnel who facilitated their transport to a quarantine facility to complete their mandatory isolation until the release of their negative COVID-19 (RT-PCR) test.
The fishermen were crew members of Chinese-operated fishing boats in Fiji waters and had completed their employment contract. They were scheduled to be repatriated on 20 August 2021 when they were all barred from boarding their flight when 19 of them returned with positive results during the mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to departure.
The Philippine Embassy to New Zealand and its Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), through the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), has compelled the workers’ respective licensed manning agencies to render proper isolation facility and medical attention to those who tested positive of COVID-19. The rescheduling of their repatriation was challenge as Fiji’s borders were still closed and travel restrictions were strictly enforced.
While waiting for their eventual repatriation, the Embassy and POLO-OWWA, in coordination with the Honorary Consulate and the Filipino community leaders in Fiji, promptly organized assistance by providing them food items, toiletries, stationery, phone top-ups and others.
The OWWA Regional Welfare Office in Davao City is assisting the crew members for their onward transport to their respective residences. OWWA also granted P10,000.00 financial assistance under OWWA’s Alagang Kabayan Project to the 19 fishermen who contracted COVID-19 for their aftercare needs. The DSWD, on the other hand, granted P5,000.00 financial assistance to the rest of the workers.
The Embassy acknowledges the robust and collective efforts of partner government agencies, the Honorary Consulate and the Filipino community in Fiji in assisting the repatriation of our OFWs.