Preparations are underway for the expected arrival at various ports of entry in Central Visayas of thousands of repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) staying in various quarantine and isolation centers in Metro Manila.
OFWs are requested to remain in isolation and comply with health protocols for their safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, while they wait for the results of their coronavirus 2019 tests and the issuance of quarantine clearances.
The Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease in Central Visayas held a coordination meeting Tuesday, May 26, to discuss the issues and concerns on the process that will be used upon the arrival of the OFWs at the airport and seaports.
Thousands of OFWs are projected to arrive in Central Visayas following the ultimatum given to various national government agencies by President Rodrigo Duterte that all 24,000 OFWs who have tested negative for COVID-19 should be transported to their home provinces within the week.
Based on the Department of Health Memorandum 2020-0200, OFWs are required to undergo 14-day quarantine upon arrival in the country.
However, they will be allowed to return to their home province if their Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests yield negative results.
The President issued the order after he received complaints from OFWs regarding the delayed release of test results.
In response to the President’s directive, Undersecretary Epimaco Densing of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) issued a memorandum to all regional directors, governors, city and municipal mayors.
In his memorandum, Densing stated that the 24,000 OFWS have to be transported at an estimated 8,000 individuals daily using various modes of transportation starting May 25, 2020 up to May 27, 2020.
Office of Civil Defense (OCD-7) Regional Director Marlou Salazar urged the task force to tap the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for additional manpower during the arrival of the OFWs.
According to guidelines, the local government unit (LGU) of origin will submit a list of OFWs with complete details to the respective DILG OFW Desk and regional task force prior to their departure.
The LGU of origin will provide the medical clearance and the test results from the city or municipal health office, and travel authority from the Joint Task Force Coronavirus Shield (JTF CV Shield).
Upon arrival at ports of entry, the receiving LGU will coordinate with other LGUs of the OFWs’ hometowns/cities.
However, the decision on subjecting returning OFWs to a 14-day quarantine period will be under the discretion of the local chief executives.
The task force for the return of the OFWs is composed of the DILG, Department of Health, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority, Philippine Ports Authority/Cebu Port Authority, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulation Board, Land Transportation Office, Department of Tourism, and the Bureau of Fire Protection. (PR)