This photo taken on April 2, 2020 shows returning overseas Filipino workers.
The STAR/Edd Gumban
Weeks past 14-day quarantine, OFWs in facilities to be sent home
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 25, 2020 - 10:20am

MANILA, Philippines — The government will begin sending home some 24,000 repatriated Filipino workers stranded at various quarantine facilities in Metro Manila on Monday, the Department of Labor and Employment said. 

This came after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DOLE, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Health to bring repatriated OFWs to their home provinces within one week.

Despite testing negative for the coronavirus disease 2019 and staying in quarantine facilities beyond the mandatory 14-day isolation period, many OFWs were still stuck at quarantine facilities due to lack of clearances.

Others have been waiting for their test results and clearance for weeks.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said composite teams of OWWA and Philippine Coast Guard will arrange daily trips for 8,000 OFWs via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in the next three days.

The composite teams will also facilitate the documentation of cleared OFWs.

“Starting Monday, bus trips to Bicol, Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Cordillera Administrative Region and Central Luzon will be made available, while flights to Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban, Bacolod, Davao, Cebu, Iloilo and Zamboanga will be arranged for until Wednesday,” DOLE said in a release Monday, adding that more bus rides and flights will be made available for OFWs.

OFWs must present their quarantine passes from the Bureau of Quarantine or from the PCG's negative list to qualify in the government’s return.

RELATED: National Privacy Commission looking into public release of OFWs' COVID-19 test results

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in an interview on state-run PTV, Monday said the chief executive has ordered government agencies to bring some 24,000 back to their hometowns.

“Hindi katanggap-tanggap sa ating president na matapos maglingkod para sa ating bayan bilang mga OFWs na napahiwalay sa kanilang mga pamilya, nalungkot at nahirapan sa ibang bayan, eh ngayon, lalo pang mahihirapan habang naghihintay ng kanilang COVID-19 results,” Roque said.

(It’s unacceptable to our president that our OFWs, after serving the country by being separated from their families, struggled abroad, are suffering more while waiting for their test results.)

RELATED: For cruise ship crew waiting to come home, it's a bitter-'suite' life

Duterte also ordered agencies to ramp up the capacity for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in areas outside Metro Manila so OFWs may directly go home to their provinces and get tested there.

To date, there are 35 accredited coronavirus testing laboratories across the archipelago.

The new coronavirus has so far infected 14,035 people in the Philippines, with 868 deaths.

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS
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