FOUR seafarer groups formally appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) to adopt Cebu Provincial Government’s swab-upon-arrival policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
These groups are:
• Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP)
• Mariners' and Allied Transport Employees Union (MATEU)
• Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SONAME)
• ANGKLA Partylist
In a letter, they also asked IATF to revisit its policies for OFWs and ROFs.
They described Cebu’s swab-upon-arrival policy as “more practical and responsive to the needs of the times.”
For them, the policy eases the burden of returning seafarers.
Seafarers comprise 25 percent of the global maritime workforce and are recognized as essential workers by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
“Our returning seafarers had already been out on the sea for an extended period of time, even way beyond the expiration of their employment contracts. This is due to the limited capacity to transfer them from their ships to their home countries,” the groups said.
They said that mandating them to undergo the 10-day facility-based quarantine upon arrival “places them in a more difficult situation as opposed to when they are immediately tested upon arrival allowing them to go home to their families at once upon a negative result.”
They described Cebu’s swab and quarantine rules as “more attuned with acceptable protocols that health organizations throughout the world adhere to.”
On March 31, 2021, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia issued Executive Order 17 that mandates the implementation of the swab-upon-arrival policy.