Galvez sorry for coordination lapses in bringing OFWs home
ILOILO CITY –– The chief implementer of the national government’s response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has apologized to local government units (LGUs) over coordination and COVID-19 testing problems in the transport of stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to their home provinces.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, said the national government was initially overwhelmed with the influx of returning OFWs, who arrived in the country after the pandemic triggered lockdowns worldwide.
“I really wanted to apologize. It is my fault. There was an overwhelming (number) of (arriving) OFWs. We were overwhelmed,” Galvez told officials of Panay Island in a meeting at the Casa Real here on Tuesday.
Many LGUs complained that OFWs coming from Manila tested positive upon arrival in their home province.
Officials also lamented the short notice on the arrival of special trips, transporting OFWs.
Galvez said the government was catering to 30,000 OFWs a week, packing hotels and 26 ships docked in Manila.
The testing of OFWs also faced problems after more than 40 personnel of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine tested positive for the disease.
Testing was mainly conducted by the Philippine Red Cross.
Galvez said there were problems in coordination with LGUs in the transport of around 24,000 OFWs last week because the task force was given three days by President Duterte to send home the OFWs, many of whom were stranded for two months in Manila.
Galvez said the government was bracing for the repatriation of 500,000 to 700,000 OFWs due to the global economic slump resulting from the pandemic.
He said it is projected that the Middle East, where many OFWs are employed, will shut down 70 percent of its economy.
At least 42,000 OFWs are expected to come home in June alone,” Galvez said.
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