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Returning OFWs will stay only up to 5 days in Mla, says official

06 June 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Latest batch of repatriated OFWs arrived in Manila from UAE on Jun 3 

Returning or repatriated overseas Filipino workers will stay a maximum of only five days in Manila while waiting for their Covid-19 test results before being sent to their home provinces, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday, Jun 5.

Lorenzana said in an interview that this is to prevent a repeat of the previous incident when 24,000 OFWs were stuck in quarantine centers for up to two months even after testing negative for the virus.

After several well-publicized stories about the plight of the stranded OFWs, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered them to be brought home within a week.

“Ayaw na po nating mangyari iyong nakaraan na umabot ng isang buwan, napagakasunduan po namin na limang araw lang ang maximum na nasa Maynila ang OFWs,”  Lorenzana said.

(We want to avoid a repeat of what happened in the past when they were quarantined for up to a month, so we decided that the OFWs will remain in Manila for a maximum of five days).

He also said that for the 42,000 OFWs expected to be flown home within the month, only between 1,200 to 1,500 OFWs will be allowed to enter the country each day, to avoid overcrowding in the quarantine facilities.
He clarified the government will pay for the swab tests and accommodation only of OFWs and not other incoming passengers.

Earlier, the deputy chief implementer of the government’s Covid-19 response said Clark International Airport would begin accepting repatriated overseas Filipino workers starting Jun 5 so they could go straight to their hometown to quarantine.

Clark Airport is all spruced up for its reopening, but no OFWs arrived on Jun 5

Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vince Dizon made the announcement on Jun 4, saying other international airports in the country would follow suit.

“Ang gagawin po natin ngayon sa mga susunod na linggo ay idi-decentralize na po natin ang arrivals ng ating mga OFWs,” Dizon said in a televised briefing aired on television.

“Magsisimula po iyan sa pagtanggap ng Clark International Airport bukas ng mga flights galing sa abroad dala ang ating mga OFWs,” Dizon said.

(In the coming weeks, we will decentralize the arrivals of the OFWs. It will start with Clark International Airport accepting flights from abroad carrying our OFWs from tomorrow).

“At dahil po tumataas na ang capacity ng ating mga probinsya at ng ating mga siyudad sa labas ng Metro Manila, magagawa na po natin ito ngayon para po mapadali ang pag-uwi at makasama ng ating mga kababayang mga OFWs ang kanilang mga pamilya.”

(And since the testing capacity of our provinces and cities outside Metro Manila has improved, we can now do this so our OFWs could go home faster and be with their families sooner).
A check of Clark’s Facebook page, however, showed that there were no commercial or sweeper flights scheduled to arrive at the airport on Jun 5. Two AirAsia flights bound for Cagayan de Oro and Davao City were apparently also canceled, based on comments from passengers.

Neither has the Department of Foreign Affairs, which regularly posts photos and stories about repatriation flights, posted any recent flights on its website.

All OFW repatriation flights currently land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

All returning OFWs are required to undergo testing for Covid-19, and stay at a quarantine facility in Metro Manila before being allowed to return to their home provinces.

The Philippines has recorded 20,626 covid-19 as of Jun 5. Of these, 4,330 have recovered while 987 died.

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