Gomez: Gov’t should coordinate process of receiving repatriates, OFWs
MANILA, Philippines — There is nothing wrong with accepting repatriates, locally stranded individuals, and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Ormoc City, Leyte, but the government should coordinate for the smooth process of welcoming and receiving them, city mayor and actor Richard Gomez said Thursday.
I was watching the interview of Sec. Panelo and reading the interview of Sec. Año in Rappler about the confusion that…
“Una, Wala pong problema sa pag tanggap sa mga repatriates, locally stranded individuals and OFWs (First there is nothing wrong in accepting repatriates, locally stranded individuals and OFWs) ,” he said in a Facebook post.
“Tama po kayo na handa kaming tumanggap ng returnees at inaasikaso namin sila sa abot ng aming makakaya, “ (You are right that we can accept returnees and we are prioritizing them to the best of our abilities.)
Previously, Gomez lamented that the individuals, who he said, had availed of the government’s Balik Probinsya program, and that they arrived without undergoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols.
But Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año said the people did not avail of the government program, and were just OFWs who simply wanted to go home and be with their families.
He also had an answer to Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, who, in his program “Counterpoint” on Wednesday, said that Gomez “panicked” upon receiving word that three planes full of OFWs were arriving in Leyte.
“Hindi po ako natataranta tulad po ng sinasabi ninyo (I didn’t panic, just like what you said)” Gomez answered Panelo.
“Sumusunod lang po kami sa naunang utos ng DILG mismo sa briefing na ginawa nila sa LGU last Thursday, May 21, na 3 days prior to arrival of repatriates ay dapat may coordination from their LGU of origin and notice from the national agencies para ang ito ay mapaghandaan ng maayos,” he added.
(We were just complying with the DILG’s instruction that during the briefing with LGUs last Thursday, May 21, that three days prior to arrival of repatriates is that there should be coordination from their LGU of origin and notice from the national agencies so that this could be prepared for.)
Gomez then said that what had happened was that he received a text message from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration last May 25, informing him that three planes from Manila, with OFWs on board, were set to arrive in Palo, Leyte and Tacloban airports that same day.
He added that the Ormoc LGU was not informed how many of the repatriates would be arriving in their city.
“Kailangan namin malaman sana in advance para tama yung laki ng sasakyan na magsusundo, may mga medical team na nakahanda etc. Hindi kasi yung ofws lang ang naguuwian, may balik probinsya program din, at may mga biglang nasa border na na gusto rin pumasok — ibig sabihin kung 300 yung capacity ng quarantine area hindi po ibig sabihin all 300 are reserved for OFWs alone,” he said.
(We need to know in advance so we could know how big the car we need, if a medical team is needed. Not only OFWs will be returning, there are some “Balik Probinsya” repatriates too, and there are some at the border who want to enter too — this means if 300 is the capacity of the quarantine area, this doesn’t mean that 300 are reserved for OFWs alone.)
The mayor added that a day later, Año called him and admitted that there was a “miscommunication” that had happened.
“Wag niyo po masamain pag humihingi kami ng coordination sa inyo. Hindi po kami kalaban,” Gomez then said as he asked for coordination from the national government.
(Don’t get mad at us if we are asking for coordination. We are not the enemy.)
“On both occasions ng pagdating on mga repatriates (on the arrival of the repatriates), I called our DILG-8 regional director to ask kung anong nangyari at bakit walang nakaka alam na merong parating (to ask what happened and how come no one knows that there are people arriving),” Gomez said.
“On both occasions he said he has no idea as well,” he added. “We ask for coordination not to give anyone a hard time but to make the process smooth for everyone.”
Gomez added that he wants the government’s Balik Probinsya program, local stranded individuals program and OFW program to succeed, adding that LGUs are partners of the national government.
“If this fails we fail, too,” he said.
“Hindi po kami nagmamarunong at hindi po ito contest ng pagalingan. Trabaho Lang po, (We are not pretending to know it all, and this is not a contest of who is the best. This is just work.) ” he then said.
“Kung nananatili kaming covid negative (If we remain COVID negative) it is not for personal glory, because at the core of every effort we put out there is the commitment to protect and save lives of our people. Yun lang ho yung goal (That is only the goal),” he added, referring that Ormoc City currently has no confirmed COVID-19 cases.
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