5,000 repatriated OFWs still waiting to go home

MANILA. A Filipino seafarer pushes his bag at a bus terminal as he waits for a free bus ride in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines, after spending weeks quarantined on a ship, Thursday, May 28, 2020. (AP)

THREE days before the one-week deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte, some 5,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) remain in government-run quarantine facilities.

In a virtual press conference Friday, May 29, Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said more than 19,000 OFWs have been sent home.

"As of this morning (Friday), we were able to facilitate sending home 19,010 OFWs," said Bello.

He assured that they will be able to meet the deadline set by Duterte to bring the OFWs home within a week.

"We assure that before the end of this week, they will be able to come home," said Bello.

Duterte on May 25 ordered DOLE to bring home all the 24,000 OFWs, who have been staying in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila longer than the mandated 14-day period.

Some repatriated workers, who have been under quarantine for more than a month, had complained of the slow release of their coronavirus disease (Covid-19) test results and clearances.

Bello said they need to bring home all 24,000 OFWs as 42,000 more are expected to arrive in the coming weeks.

"More OFWs are arriving home. There are 42,000 more OFWs coming home between May to June," said Bello.

In a bid to prevent a repeat of the disorderly process of sending home the repatriated OFWs, DOLE said it has opened a command center as repository of data and information on returning OFWs.

The command center will guide DOLE in the formulation of proactive measures and crafting of policies in dealing with repatriation, reintegration, and assistance to OFWs.

Bello said the command center will also help map the location of inbound and outbound OFWs. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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