Survivor: ‘God is the main doctor’

Tuesday April 07, 2020 Written by Published in Local
Expat worker Marc Marlon Rebollos spoke emotionally of the pain of his uncle’s Covid-19 death last week. 20040605 Expat worker Marc Marlon Rebollos spoke emotionally of the pain of his uncle’s Covid-19 death last week. 20040605

Expat worker Marc Marlon Rebollos stands with tears rolling down his face.

Cook Islands is truly blessed, he says, that there has been no Covid-19 confirmed here. He is speaking to his own Filipino, to the Indonesian and Kiribas communities, to government representatives – about 200 people in total.


And he doesn’t care who sees him cry.

Rebollos is speaking at a community meeting, revealing the pain of losing his loved uncle to the coronavirus – and not even having the chance to say goodbye.

His uncle’s death in Italy has been painful, he reveals, and traumatic.

“I am emotional, I am far from my family,” he says. “My uncle passed away in Italy last week, due to the Covid-19.”

His family back in the Philippines is safe, he says, but the pain of not being able to say goodbye to his uncle is something they will have to endure.

Rebollos adknowledges the issues rising between employers and employees, as they trad the fine line of keeping businesses afloat and workers employed.

But these challenges are not new, he says. What is new is that now it’s no longer about jobs, it’s about keeping the community together and safe.

“Let’s trust God, and take advantage of this government package given to us. This is an honour for us,” he says. “God is the main doctor for this Covid-19.”

Internal Affairs labour director Sandrina Thondoo encouraged expatriate workers to maintain their relationships with their employers.

The minister is providing some temporary work for those who have lost their jobs or have reduced hours, she says.

But it must be understood that this temporary work is only during the Covid-19 precautionary measures, because immigration has relaxed its rules temporarily.

“Your relationship with the employer who brought you here is important, that is legal, remain with your employer if you are not exploited. If you really need to leave, then leave.”

Thondoo also explained  advised that any expat worker stuck overseas or in their home country, due to Covid-19, could not apply for the unemployment benefit or wage subsidy as they were not working in Cook Islands.

They could not apply for their superannuation to be paid out, either, as they were still legally employed – unless they decided to resign and not return to the Cook Islands.

Meanwhile, Tupapa MP George Maggie has also allocated land for the Tongan, Samoan and Filipino community for farming.

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