DFA protests additional 14-day quarantine for seafarers
Locsin added that the cruise ships floating around Manila Bay have 6,000 Filipino seafarers anxious to reach their homes.

DFA protests additional 14-day quarantine for seafarers

Rudy Santos (The Philippine Star) - April 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has protested the imposition of another 14-day quarantine for Filipino seafarers who have already finished quarantine for the coronavirus disease during their long sea voyage to Manila.

Locsin added that the cruise ships floating around Manila Bay have 6,000 Filipino seafarers anxious to reach their homes.

The extremely large number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived this week from nine cruise ships were forced by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), through the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and Department of Transportation (DOTr), to undergo another 14-day quarantine in individual cabins before the ships are allowed to dock at the Port of Manila.

The ships have all come from Australia, Indonesia and Japan to bring home OFWs who have been on board for several months now since COVID-19 had spread to many parts of the world.

So far, more than 16,000 seafarers have arrived by chartered aircraft arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and OFW manning agencies.

Migration and recruitment consultant Manny Geslani said that Asia’s largest cruise ships, Spectrum of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas, are now in Manila Bay with more than 2,400 Filipino seafarers.

Other cruise ships anchored off Sangley Point in Cavite are the Sun Princess, Majestic Princess, Sapphire Princess, Pacific Dawn, Pacific Explorer and the Queen Elizabeth.

Another large cruise ship, the Carnival Spirit, joined the flotilla of cruise ships at Manila Bay Saturday morning with more than 500 Filipino crewmembers. This ship is expected to bring Filipino crews to Visayas and Mindanao, aside from crew who will disembark at Manila.

The Philippine Coast Guard will allow these ships to dock after the 14-day quarantine monitored by the BOQ.

The DOTr, in coordination with manning agencies and ship management, ordered the mandatory quarantine for Filipino crews due to the huge number of seafarers and lack of land facilities

By next week more cruise ships from P&O Australia, Holland America and Costa will be arriving in Manila to unload thousands more Filipino seafarers, Geslani added.

Whether arriving by air or sea, OFWs would need a quarantine certificate from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and BOQ before reuniting with their families. 

The welfare agency would be the one to issue a certificate of length of stay, while the BOQ will issue a certificate of completion of quarantine. 

“The certificates will serve as proof that they didn’t manifest any symptoms of COVID-19 and that they completed the 14-day quarantine,” OWWA noted.  

Upon arrival, OFWs without symptoms will be brought to a hotel or resort with proper accommodation and meals for their 14-day mandatory facility-based quarantine. OWWA will assist in transporting OFWs to the IATF-approved quarantine facilities where they will be closely monitored. – With Mayen Jaymalin

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