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Grieving DHs unable to fly home despite deaths in family

30 April 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao  

On arriving in Manila, all OFWs are taken to a quarantine facility where they must stay for 14 days

It's a story heard quite often nowadays - that of Filipinos overseas who are unable to go home to pay last respects to a family member who just died because of travel restrictions that are in place in many parts of the world because of the coronavirus contagion.

This was exactly what two Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong experienced on Wednesday, Apr 29. Both their fathers died, but all they could do was post their grief on Facebook because there was no way they could fly home without risking their jobs - if they could even make it on time for the funeral.

Jam, from Isabela, posted on the DWC Help Group page that she could not go home due to the compulsory 14-day stay in a quarantine facility upon arrival in Manila, and another 14-day quarantine in her hometown.
Then she would have to go into another 14-day quarantine on her return to Hong Kong before returning to her employer.

“Mahirap magpaalam sa aking tatay [dahil] sa sitwasyon ko ngayon. Ang hirap pala,” Jam said. She said it would be pointless because her father would be buried in two days.

Another worker, Ann from Iloilo City, comforted Jam. She said they were in the same situation because she also lost her father on the same day. Like Jam, she is resigned to not seeing him for the last time.
Since the Philippine government imposed a travel ban to Hong Kong on Feb 2, followed by a lockdown in Luzon to help stem the spread of Covid-19, several migrant workers whose families have been visited by death could not fly home because of the travel constraints.

It’s not just the compulsory quarantine that prevents the two Filipinas from going home. Jam is from Cauayan City in the north, while Ann is from the Visayas, but the two major carriers that fly to their cities are still grounded.

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific have both stopped flying to and from Hong Kong since the travel ban in February, and have now cancelled all their international and domestic flights until May 15 due to the lockdown or “enhanced community quarantine” of Luzon.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love.

“We intend to resume operations by May 16 if warranted by Philippine and international authorities, global public health conditions and the travel environment,” PAL said. 

Cebu Pacific announced a similar extension of its suspension of all international and domestic flights until May 15 “in line with the extension of ECQ imposed over much of Luzon, and implementation of general community quarantine over other provinces.”

The airline also cited restrictions being implemented by local governments across the country. Only all-cargo flights are operated to move vital goods, including medicines and protective gear for frontliners in the fight against Covid-19, CebuPac said.

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