“We will look into this now. We will go out of our way and actually ask OWWA for an inventory, especially those who are waiting for the results of their tests for so long, and follow up with the laboratories, and ask them, ‘Kaya ninyo ba o hindi (Can you do it or not)?’ OK? We will do that,” Roque said.
PPD/Yancy Lim
Palace seeks inventory of isolated, tested OFWs
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - May 20, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesman Harry Roque yesterday called on the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to submit to Malacañang an inventory of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) now under quarantine after they arrived in the country, as well as updates on the status of their tests for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Unable to reunite with their families, some OFWs have been complaining about the long period that they have been stranded in quarantine facilities.

“We will look into this now. We will go out of our way and actually ask OWWA for an inventory, especially those who are waiting for the results of their tests for so long, and follow up with the laboratories, and ask them, ‘Kaya ninyo ba o hindi (Can you do it or not)?’ OK? We will do that,” Roque said.

Roque also vowed to look into the concerns on the fate of OFWs who have been stranded in the United Arab Emirates due to lack of passenger flights going back to the Philippines.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has been closely working with the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on the possible resumption of flights in general community quarantine areas.

“There is ongoing consultation with airlines about the possibility of starting regional hubs. The problem is, Manila and Clark are still under (modified enhanced community quarantine); Lapu-Lapu in Cebu is not, so that can be classified as regional hub,” he said.

“But they are working out the details on how to resume somehow the commercial travel in (general community quarantine) areas,” he added.

Sen. Richard Gordon had earlier called the attention of the IATF to address the concerns and recommended that the airports in Clark, Subic and Mactan be opened to accommodate more flights for repatriating OFWs.

‘Compassionate justice’

An official of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has appealed for “compassionate justice” for an OFW who escaped from a quarantine facility and put the lives of his 11 family members at risk after he tested positive for COVID-19.

PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said he personally does not want to talk about the case of the 48-year-old male OFW until he is fully recovered from the disease.

Balilo added that their legal and investigation teams would evaluate the case of the OFW and would file appropriate charges against him, depending on the evidence available after he gets better and recovers from the disease.

He also emphasized that the case would be referred to the IATF that will determine his violations of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The OFW reportedly escaped from a quarantine facility in Quezon City on Monday along with seven others pending the release of their quarantine clearances from the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ).

“The search operations for the seven other OFWs are ongoing. They shall be arrested and shall face charges for violating quarantine protocols and for compromising the health and safety of their families and communities,” Balilo said.

Of the eight OFWs, the PCG said only the 48-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19.

Balilo said the 11 family members of the OFW who tested positive for COVID-19 have been put in isolation and have been tested for the virus to avoid spread of the disease.

No results for the OFW’s family members have come out yet.

Asked how the OFWs were able to escape from quarantine, Balilo said nobody from the OWWA is looking after the OFWs at the hotels.

He added that OFWs are randomly checked by the OWWA at the hotels that serve as their quarantine facilities.

5 Pinoys in Canada die of COVID

Meanwhile, five Filipinos in Canada have died due to COVID-19, Philippine Ambassador Petronila Garcia said yesterday.

During the Laging Handa televised briefing, Garcia said one of the Filipino fatalities committed suicide and was found to be positive for the coronavirus after an autopsy.

She added that the embassy and consulates general in Canada are having difficulties in determining the total number of Filipinos infected with the virus because of the country’s strict privacy laws.

The federal and provincial governments also do not mention in their reports the nationalities of persons affected by the pandemic.

The embassy only learn of some of the cases through family members who come to the embassy and consulates to inform them about the affected Filipinos.

In Calgary, Garcia said they received reports that 225 Filipinos were afflicted with COVID-19. Of this figure, 89 have recovered.

In Toronto, 22 Filipinos were reported infected with the virus. Six have recovered and one had died.

Garcia gave assurance that the Canadian government is providing treatment to all COVID-19 patients of different nationalities.

The ambassador said there are around 930,000 Filipinos in Canada. Some 880,000 are permanent residents or Canadian citizens while the rest are temporary workers.

As of May 19, there are 78,072 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, 39,228 recoveries and 5,842 deaths.

Stricter quarantine, testing

The Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) and Philipine Airlines (PAL) are reminding all international passengers arriving at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) that they will have to undergo strict quarantine and testing procedures.

The Philippine government is implementing stricter quarantine and testing procedures for all arriving passengers, effective immediately, under a new directive from the IATF.

Upon arrival, all passengers will undergo a swab test (real-time polymerase chain reaction) to be performed by trained personnel from the BOQ.

While awaiting test results, passengers must stay either in a government-designated quarantine facility or in a BOQ-approved quarantine hotel.

Payment for accommodation in a government-designated quarantine facility shall be based on the following guidelines:

1. For land-based OFWs, the cost shall be shouldered by OWWA;

2. For sea-based OFWs, cost shall be shouldered by the Maritime Industry Authority or by the local manning agency;

3. All other travelers (Filipino or foreign nationals) who are non-OFWs will pay for the cost of their accommodation, but PhilHealth will shoulder the expenses if they are a member.

Accommodation in a BOQ-approved quarantine hotel will be to the passengers’ own expense, regardless if they are OFWs or not.

Travelers whose test results are positive will be transferred to a designated hospital for further medical management.

Travelers whose test results are negative will be allowed to move out and undergo a 14-day quarantine at home or at an appropriate local monitoring facility.

For more details and information on these new requirements and related concerns, call the government’s One-Stop Shop hotline number at +639161019964. Robertzon Ramirez, Pia Lee-Brago, Rudy Santos

COVID-19 HARRY ROQUE OWWA
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