MANILA, Philippines – Senator Ricard Gordon has renewed his call for the reopening of the Subic Bay International Airport (SBIA) to accommodate flights carrying repatriating overseas Filipino workers (OFW) amid the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis.
In a statement on Sunday, Gordon pointed out that the Subic Airport is “very suitable” for receiving arriving OFWs because it has facilities for the accommodation, testing, and quarantine of repatriates.
He also said that the newly opened Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Subic and Clark can also accommodate a combined capacity for running up to 4,000 tests a day.
Gordon noted that more than 300,000 OFWs are expected to arrive in the next three to four months, and diverting flights carrying repatriates to SBIA would help facilitate their testing and immediate travel to their respective provinces after their test results have been released.
“Kahapon kinausap ko si Sec. Art Tugade at sabi ko Art, matagal ka nang nangangako sa kin, buksan mo na ‘yung airport ng Subic para diyan maglanding ‘yung ibang OFWs para ma-test na sila kaagad-agad,” he said.
Gordon also said that arriving ships carrying Filipino seafarers can dock at the Subic seaport.
“Dati sa Manila Bay sila nagte-test, ang hirap pumasok. Sa Subic, kalmado ang tubig kaya mas madaling pasukin ng Coast Guard ‘yung mga barko para makapag-swab sila sa mga seafarers,” he said.
Gordon further said that using the SBIA for OFW repatriation efforts could jumpstart the resumption of its operations for international flights and reactivate its tourism industry.
“Once we have tested everybody here we can advertise to the whole world, ‘we have already tested all the employees here, we have tested everyone here so now you are welcome to come down here.’ And jobs can be generated right away,” he said.
Gordon said a P500-million budget has been allocated in the 2019 budget for the rehabilitation of the SBIA.
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