Duterte gives ultimatum to gov’t agencies to send home 24,000 OFWs stranded in quarantine facilities

Marje Pelayo   •   May 25, 2020   •   423

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has given concerned government agencies a week to send home all 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who remain stranded in quarantine facilities. 

Specifically, the President addressed the matter to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of Health (DOH). 

The President’s ultimatum stemmed from complaints coming from OFWs in government quarantine facilities due to the slow-paced processing of their swab test results for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that is mandatory for arriving OFWs.

“Sang-ayon po sa Presidente, binibigyan niyang otoridad ang lahat ng mga opisyales ng mga departamentong ito na gamitin po ang lahat ng resources ng ating gobyerno para masiguradong makauwi ngayong linggo ang ating mga kababayan,” Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque announced.

OWWA earlier explained that the results of swab tests have been delayed because of the number of arriving OFWs.

Malacañang added that the President wants to strengthen the country’s capacity in reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RTPCR) testing in the provinces so that returning OFWs can go straight to their localities and be tested there.

“Sabi rin po ng ating presidente, kinakailangang palawakin ang kakayahan ng ating mga probinsya na magkaroon ng RT-PCR test para sa ganun po ang mga susunod na darating na OFWs ay doon na po sa kanilang mga probinsya mag-quarantine at doon na po sila magpapa-pcr test,” Roque said. 

DOLE, meanwhile, promised to send home OFWs who have been cleared of COVID-19 in three days with the help of the OWWA and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG). 

“The composite team of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will arrange in the next three days for daily trips for 8,000 OFWs via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) and the NAIA Terminal,” DOLE’s statement read. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

400K OFWs sent home during pandemic — DOLE

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 20, 2021

Manila, Philippines — Over 400,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been sent home since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

As of January 16, the Labor Department records a total of 410,211 repatriates who have undergone quarantine and were cleared of COVID-19.

“After their ordeal in their country of origin, our dear OFWs were all provided accommodation, food, transportation, and cash assistance by the government. Now, they are safely home with their families,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

The latest figures from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration showed that 8,273 OFWs were transported to their respective provinces last week.

An estimate of 60,000 to 80,000 more OFWs are expected to be repatriated this year, according to reports from the various Philippine Overseas Labor Offices of DOLE. AAC

OFWs exempted from travel ban on countries with new COVID-19 strain cases

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 29, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in countries with a travel ban from the government are exempted and will be allowed to enter the Philippines, according to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

In a press conference on Tuesday (December 29), Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said President Rodrigo Duterte wants OFWs to be able to return to their families.

Bello said returning OFWs would need to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Some 60,000 to 100,000 OFWs are expected to return in the next two weeks, he added.

Duterte, on Monday (December 28), approved the imposition of travel ban on countries with confirmed reports of the new strain of COVID-19. The travel ban will take effect on December 30 at 12:01 a.m. until January 15. AAC

Construction of PH’s first ever OFW hospital begins in Pampanga

Marje Pelayo   •   November 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A health facility dedicated to the country’s modern-day heroes — the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs)— is set to rise in Pampanga. 

The 100-bed capacity hospital is set to rise on a two-hectare land donated by the provincial government of Pampanga specifically in the municipality of San Fernando.

The construction of the said health facility has been made possible with the P500 million donation of Bloomberry Cultural Foundation, Inc. (BCFI), an entity established by the operator of Solaire Resort and Casino.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) said that the soon-to-rise OFW hospital will immensely help the country’s modern-day heroes who endure homesickness just to provide for their families and keep the economy afloat.

“We will finally have this very first, modern and state-of-the-art health facility intended solely for the care and medical needs of our OFWs,” said PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Andrea Domingo who graced the kick-off event on Thursday (November 26) along with other key government officials. 

BCFI President Donato Almeda said that many Filipinos rely on the OFW’s contribution to the national economy through their remittances. 

However, very little assistance or recognition is given to them when they finally return home to retire.

Secretary of Labor and Employment Silvestre Bello III, who also graced the event, expressed his gratitude to PAGCOR, BCFI and the provincial government of Pampanga for helping promote the welfare of overseas workers through their commitment to build the health facility. MNP / Beth Pilares

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