DOLE: Efforts underway to send home 24,000 quarantined OFWs in 3 days
MANILA, Philippines — Government agencies are working to send home in three days the 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stuck in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) quarantine facilities, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Monday.
This came after President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to concerned government agencies to bring them home within a week and beef up COVID-19 testing capacity and processes.
“Sa loob ng tatlong araw, pipilitin namin makauwi itong 24,000 by land or by air. Susunduin sila ngayon ng DOTR [Department of Transportation], ng OWWA [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration] sa kani kanilang mga hotel,” Bello said in an interview on Teleradyo.
(In three days, we will try to bring home the 24,000 OFWs by land or by air. They will be fetched by DOTR and OWWA in the hotels where they stay.)
Bello said they are eyeing to bring home at least 8,000 OFWs per day.
“Nag-mobilize na po si [DOTr] Secretary [Arthur] Tugade ng mga bus. Lahat ng mga airports ngayon ay bukas, magkakaroon ng flights from Manila to Cebu, to Iloilo, Bacolod, GenSan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, including Zamboanga City para makauwi na po yung ating mga OFWs,” he added.
(Secretary Tugade already mobilized buses. Airports will be open and flights will be mounted from Manila to Cebu to Iloilo, Bacolod, GenSan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao City, including Zamboanga City so that our OFWs can return home.)
In a statement, DOLE said bus trips to Bicol, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), and Central Luzon via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) will also be made available for the OFWs.
“The OFWs need to present their quarantine passes from the Bureau of Quarantine or from the PCG’s [Philippine Coast Guard] negative list from COVID-19 to qualify in the return program,” DOLE said.
The President’s directive came after a number of repatriated OFWs complained of having to stay well beyond the mandatory 14-day isolation period in quarantine due to the delay in the release of their COVID-19 test results.
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