OFWs returning to Zamboanga must show health clearances, undergo quarantine

Roel Pareño - Philstar.com
OFWs returning to Zamboanga must show health clearances, undergo quarantine

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines — The Zamboanga City government stressed Tuesday that migrant workers and residents must observe health protocols, including a quarantine, when they arrive to make sure those in the city are protected from COVID-19.

This as Overseas Filipino Workers started to arrive from the capital with assistance from the OVerseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

At least 132 OFWs — stranded in Manila because of the lockdown — arrived in the city late Monday night.

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local government units in an address aired late Monday night to accept returning residents,saying it is cruel to keep OFWs from returning home. He also said he understands that local governments have to protect their constituents.

Many of the OFWs going home to the provinces were kept in isolation facilities longer than the 14-day mandatory quarantine due to delays in the release of their COVID-19 test results and health clearances.

Mayor Maria Isabelle Cliamco-Salazar, chair of the local task force on COVID-19 responde, said migrant workers have to go through quarantine again before being allowed to return to their homes.

"We have to make it clear that the [Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] guidelines and health protocols must be duly accomplished together with the required quarantine that the city government must enforce."

A number OFWs have raised concerns at how difficult it has been for them to get home.

"Why are we requiring them to undergo quarantine again? Because they might have expsoure on the way here," Salazar said.

"The policy of the city government...is to have them quarantined and tested because we want them to safely go home to their families," the mayor added.

Dr. Elmei Apolinario, chief of the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), said the city will facilitate the returning residents' travel as long as they have the necessary clearances and documents.

"The important (thing) is they have the certificate that they have completed the quarantine, exit pass. Once they have that we facilitate entry," Apolinario said.

Salazar said the city government has also prepared job assistance for OFWs coming home to Zamboanga City.

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