Duterte gives ultimatum to gov’t agencies to send home 24,000 OFWs stranded in quarantine facilities

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has given concerned government agencies a week to send home all 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who remain stranded in quarantine facilities. 

Specifically, the President addressed the matter to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Health (DOH). 

The President’s ultimatum stemmed from complaints coming from OFWs in government quarantine facilities due to the slow-paced processing of their swab test results for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that is mandatory for arriving OFWs.

“Sang-ayon po sa Presidente, binibigyan niyang otoridad ang lahat ng mga opisyales ng mga departamentong ito na gamitin po ang lahat ng resources ng ating gobyerno para masiguradong makauwi ngayong linggo ang ating mga kababayan,” Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque announced.

OWWA earlier explained that the results of swab tests have been delayed because of the number of arriving OFWs.

Malacañang added that the President wants to strengthen the country’s capacity in reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) testing in the provinces so that returning OFWs can go straight to their localities and be tested there.

“Sabi rin po ng ating presidente, kinakailangang palawakin ang kakayahan ng ating mga probinsya na magkaroon ng RT-PCR test para sa ganun po ang mga susunod na darating na OFWs ay doon na po sa kanilang mga probinsya mag-quarantine at doon na po sila magpapa-pcr test,” Roque said. 

DOLE, meanwhile, promised to send home OFWs who have been cleared of COVID-19 in three days with the help of the OWWA and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). 

“The composite team of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will arrange in the next three days for daily trips for 8,000 OFWs via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) and the NAIA Terminal,” DOLE’s statement read. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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