Returning OFWs still can’t go home

Photo by Alex Badayos

AROUND 300 Cebuano overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived from Manila on two different boats Saturday, May 23, 2020, were temporarily billeted in three separate hotels in Cebu City.

Michael Braga, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 information officer, said the hotels will serve as their holding areas while waiting for their local government units (LGUs) to transport them to their respective residences.

"The DILG thru its OFW desk officers in every LGU will have to arrange and coordinate with concerned LGUs for the return of their constituents, then the barangays, since we also need to consider social preparation to avoid discrimination," he said.

Jezza Legarde, family welfare officer of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (Owwa) 7, said it usually takes a day or two upon their arrival before OFWs can be endorsed to their respective LGUs.

Legarde said they have yet to determine how many of the OFWs are from Cebu Province and Cebu City.

Two 2GO vessels ferried a total of 475 stranded OFWs to Cebu City from Manila on May 23.

Some 240 were on board mv St. Michael the Archangel which arrived at Pier 6 in Cebu City around 10:30 a.m., while 235 were on board mv St. Francis Xavier, which arrived past 3 p.m.

Of the total number of OFWs on board mv St. Michael the Archangel, 151 are from Cebu, 67 are from Bohol and 22 are from Leyte.

Of the 235 OFWs on board mv St. Francis Xavier, 155 are from Cebu, 69 are from Bohol and 11 are from Leyte.

Thirty-three OFWs from Leyte left for Leyte at 10 p.m., while 35 Boholano OFWs left for Bohol on the same night. The remaining Boholanos are temporarily staying in hotels in Cebu City.

Legarde said that although these OFWs are a combination of land-based and sea-based workers, majority of them are seafarers.

Dr. Terence Anthony Bermejo, Bureau of Quarantine Cebu chief, said none of the OFWs showed symptoms of the disease upon arrival.

Department of Health-Central Visayas Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas earlier said these stranded OFWs did not have to undergo the rapid diagnostic test because they yielded negative results in the swab test for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in Manila.

On Thursday, May 21, the Philippine Coast Guard announced that 14,669 OFWs in various quarantine centers were issued a quarantine clearance after they tested negative for the novel coronavirus and completed the mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine.

Several stranded OFWs initially complained that they had been in quarantine for more than the required 14 days because the results of their RT-PCR tests had not been released.

RT-PCR tests, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, are conducted using nose and throat swab samples to detect the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. (WBS)


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