Another 14-day quarantine for returning Negros OFWs
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines — More than 200 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Negros Occidental province are finally going home after more than a month of being stuck in Metro Manila due to protocols issued to stop the spread of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
But they have to wait at least a week more before they can enter Negros Island after the provincial government and city government of Bacolod refused to take them in immediately.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson and Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia want that period to prepare the accommodations for the OFWs as they will be undergoing another 14-day quarantine before rejoining their families.
Lacson and Leonardia lamented the lack of proper coordination among government agencies and of compliance with local government protocols meant to contain COVID-19. Surprised
The OFWs were among the 672 seafarers stranded in Metro Manila after the capital region was put on lockdown. Eighty-eight are from Bacolod and 116 from different towns in Negros Occidental.
Local officials said they were surprised when presidential adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer for the National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19, informed them on Sunday that the NTF had allowed the OFWs to leave Metro Manila on board government-chartered ships and return to their hometowns.
Jonathan Lobaton, provincial incident management team commander, wrote Jose Roberto Nuñez, chair of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, that Negros Occidental would not accept the 88 Negrense seafarers.
“Bringing in the 88 seafarers this week without mandatory COVID-19 testing [violates] WVRTF Resolution No. 12,” said Lobaton, referring to the document approved by the Western Visayas Regional Task Force on April 13, requiring the testing of OFWs before their repatriation to the region.
Leonardia, in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, asked for closer coordination, asserting that the governments of Negros Occidental and Bacolod had the right to impose their own health protocols on OFWs.
The Negrense workers were scheduled to leave Manila on Monday afternoon and were expected to arrive in Iloilo City on Tuesday noon.
Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor Jr. said he would allow the entry and temporary quarantine of the OFWs in his province, “provided that the preparations being done by the (regional) Inter-Agency Task Force are completed.”
—WITH A REPORT FROM NESTOR BURGOS JR.
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