Duterte warns LGUs: Accept OFWs cleared of coronavirus or face problems
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte warned local government units (LGUs) on Monday to allow entry to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) cleared of the latest coronavirus strain or face problems.
Duterte said in his latest address streamed at night that he had received reports that OFWs were not allowed to enter towns or cities, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao to prevent the possible local transmission of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“If they are really cleared by the medical authorities — that is binding, it has to be the certification of the Department of Health. If your Department Secretary [Francisco] Duque would certify she has undergone the tests, not only against the presence of antibodies but the virus itself, that she is virus-free, then we have to make arrangements that they can go home,” Duterte said.
“But to say that they could not enter even after staying there for already more than 14 days without anything happening to them, then the national government — listen, local executives — will insist that you accept the OFW. You will have a problem if you resist,” he warned, speaking partly in Filipino.
Despite the stern warning, Duterte said that he understood why local governments would opt not to provide entry to the OFWs, as they cared about the constituents in their localities. But Duterte noted that he was only trying to implement the regulations fairly.
“I’d like to address myself to the local executives. It is your duty to help and protect your constituents. I have no quarrel: You want the contagion stopped right there at the doorstep. Just don’t enter here,” Duterte said. “But you know, Filipinos are citizens of this country, and whether we like it or not they have this constitutional right to travel and to travel abroad and to come home after working there.”
As of April 25, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has counter over 20,000 Filipino tourists and workers have been repatriated after they being stranded in COVID-19-hit countries.
Upon arrival, repatriates are submitted to tests by the Bureau of Quarantine, while observing a 14-day quarantine to check for possible COVID-19 symptoms.
Duterte said, however: “There are still thousands to worry about returning Filipinos to our country […] the problem now is these returning Filipinos are not accepted by local governments. It will boil down to the power of the President to promulgate rules and regulations to promote public health.”
As of now, DFA said that there are over 1,800 Filipinos abroad with COVID-19, of whom 214 have died and 475 have recovered.
In the Philippines, DOH on Monday tallied 9,485 patients infected, of whom 623 have died and 1,315 have recovered.
Worldwide, over 3.51 million individuals are confirmed to have COVID-19, of whom 247,565 have died and 1.12 million have recovered.
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