LGUs urged to allow entry of repatriated OFWs who completed 14-day quarantine

Marje Pelayo   •   April 3, 2020   •   1615

MANILA, Philippines – Over 3,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have already served the mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine after coming home from countries affected by coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

But according to Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), many of them have not reached their respective hometowns yet as local government units (LGUs) are still refusing them entry in fear of COVID-19 contagion.

“Sana tanggapin naman po sila ng kanilang mga LGUs dahil nakumpleto na nila yung kanilang 14-day quarantine (We hope the LGUs would accept them as they have already completed the 14-day quarantine),” said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

“Asymptomatic po sila. Wala silang sakit, [They are asymptomatic. They are not sick],” he added.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) also urged the LGUs to let the OFWs get reunited with their families.

Paalala lamang po sa ating mga LGUs huwag harangin ang ating mga OFW na nabigyan na po ng DOH o ibang LGU ng sertipikasyon na natapos na nila ang kanilang 14-day facility-based quarantine o ang mga OFW na required mag-mandatory 14-day home quarantine,” stressed IATF-EID Spokesperson Karlo Nograles.

(We would like to remind our LGUs not to block the entry of OFWs who were given certification by DOH and other LGUs that they have finished the 14-day facility-based quarantine or those who were required mandatory 14-day home quarantine.)

Most OFWs spent their quarantine period at the Athletes Village in New Clark City in Subic, Pampanga.

Aside from the said facility, several nearby hotels also serve as temporary quarantine facilities for returning Filipinos for suspected COVID-19 cases.

OWWA said more than 10,000 Filipinos are coming home this April after several countries offered amnesty for overstaying foreigners such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Administrator Cacdac said the quarantine facilities must be cleared soon before the new batch of repatriates arrive.

“We really need to move people out of the hotel, kasi magkakaubusan sa hotels. Ganito po talaga kahalaga itong effort na ito kailangan national effort po ito (We really need to move people out of the hotel otherwise we would have scarcity of hotels. This is how important our efforts, a national effort), ” Cacdac explained.

Kung hindi, magkakaroon po tayo ng krisis sa paninirahan dito sa Metro Manila kung hindi po maiibsan, kung hindi po makakauwi ang mga nag-graduate na sa 14-day quarantine (Otherwise, we would have accommodation crisis here in Metro Manila if we will not allow those who graduate from the 14-day quarantine to go home),” he added.

Based on the Department of Health (DOH) protocol, OFWs who exhibit symptoms of coronavirus disease must undergo facility-based quarantine while those asymptomatic must do home quarantine. MNP (with details from Joan Nano)

BI warns of illegal recruitment scheme victimizing former Overseas Filipino Workers

Marje Pelayo   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) is warning illegal recruiters taking advantage of former overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the current employment crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was after members of the BI Travel Control and Enforcement Unit (TCEU) at the Clark International Airport intercepted the departure of an illegal recruitment victim bound for Dubai last April 5, 2021.

The victim, whose name was not divulged following human trafficking and illegal recruitment laws, attempted to depart for Dubai via an Emirates Airlines flight.

The victim presented an overseas employment certificate (OEC) being a Balik Manggagawa, but upon checking of his documents, Immigration Officer Vanessa Icban noticed some inconsistencies and referred the matter to members of BI’s TCEU for further inspection.

Upon further checking, TCEU officer Tomas David and Vincent Serrano noted that the victim arrived in the country in 2019, and possessed a Dubai work visa.

However, after verification, it was found that his work visa has already been cancelled, and he has an active tourist visa.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente commended the efforts of the Clark immigration officers in intercepting said victim.

“I know it is a challenge to intercept such cases as they are presenting complete documents and are in the guise of being legitimate OFWs,” said Morente.

“We commend the quick eye of our immigration officers, which allowed them to uncover this modus,” he added.

In the said scheme, former OFWs whose visas and contracts have expired are given new tourist visas which allow them to depart and work illegally as tourists, using their old OEC records.

“This is an obvious circumvention of the law, and victims are promised that they can depart using their old OECs that are, in fact, invalid already,” the BI Chief said.

“Victims end up working for a different employer, or worse, fly off to a third country like Iraq or Syria,” he added.

The victim was turned over to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Labor Assistance Center Pampanga for assistance.

Over 500K OFWs repatriated amid COVID-19 pandemic – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   April 6, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – More than half a million overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who were displaced by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic have been repatriated by the government, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said.

Citing a report from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) head Hans Leo Cacdac, DOLE said 502,581 Filipino repatriates have been safely transported back to their home provinces after undergoing COVID-19 tests and quarantine protocols in various hotels.

The latest batch of repatriates consisted of 1,471 OFWs who were sent home on Saturday, DOLE said.

Meanwhile, a separate report from DOLE’s International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB) showed there are 645,071 OFWs affected by the pandemic.

Of this number, 627,576 were displaced by the public health crisis. Around 49,698 of them requested repatriation while 75,297 opted to stay on site.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured that the government continues to provide assistance to displaced and affected Filipino workers.

So far, DOLE’s Abot Kamay sa Pagtulong (AKAP) assistance program has extended P5.043 billion to 497,122 OFWs.

 

AKAP is one-time cash assistance of $200 or P10,000 for each qualified affected/displaced OFW.

Aside from AKAP, DOLE also provides financial aid, food and medical aid to COVID infected OFWs.

To date, it has extended a total of $1.93 million in cash assistance to 9,667 OFW COVID patients. Another $2.6 million in medical and food aid has been extended to 124,945 OFWs, DOLE said.

Budget for OFW repatriation depleting due to extended quarantine period — OWWA

Marje Pelayo   •   March 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Around 10,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are now under quarantine in around 140 hotels in the country.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said such a volume of OFW occupants is due to the extension of the quarantine period to eight up to nine days from one to three days in the past.

Such extension followed the changes in the protocol on COVID-19 testing for returning OFWs.

In the past, OFWs were being tested for swab samples upon arrival at the airport.

But that changed and they needed to stay at the quarantine hotel and wait for the fifth day to get tested, as this procedure is deemed more effective.

“Kaya nga we resorted to budget hotels and facilities kasi nga na-overwhelm na yung mga hotels natin dito sa Metro Manila,” said OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.

The official explained that their budget is depleting as they need to spend about P30-M a day for the quarantine procedures apart from the transportation expenses of ferrying returning OFWs to the hotel from the airport.

“As a result talagang challenged ang funds natin ngayon and we project na by April and May ay mauubos yung 2021 Budget, yung P6.2 Billion,” Cacdac said. 

The official said they have notified the Department of Budget and Management of the situation and requested for additional budget.

The agency recorded around 470,000 OFWs who returned to the country since the start of the pandemic and is expecting to receive 100,000 more this year. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

 

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