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

Marje Pelayo   •   April 3, 2020   •   1045

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)

Bodies of dead OFWs from Saudi Arabia to be flown home starting Friday – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvester Bello III on Wednesday said that the remains of overseas Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia will be brought home in batches starting Friday.

Bello said the first batch will be comprised of 44 bodies of deceased OFWs – 19 of whom succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while the others died of various causes.

The remains will arrive at the Villamor Airbase via a chartered flight on July 10.

Bello said those who died from COVID-19 will be immediately brought to a crematorium for cremation. Their ashes will then be turned over to their families.

For OFWs who died of natural causes, the labor chief said that their remains may be claimed by their relatives or sent to their respective provinces.

The second batch of OFW remains will arrive on Sunday. A total of 274 remains of OFWs will be flown home from Saudi Arabia.

Bello said the bodies will be repatriated in batches because they cannot bring them home all at once due to stringent protocols and requirements.

“Unahin muna natin yung nakumpleto ang papeles kasi ang hirap ng mga papeles dito. Meron from the Ministry of Labor, meron Ministry of Foreign Affairs nila, ospital kung saan galing yung labi. Ang pinakamahirap yung consent ng employer ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured it will extend aid to the families of deceased workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the families of both active and inactive members of the agency will receive financial assistance.

“Bereavement financial assistance at a minimum for inactive OWWA members and then there is an additional death and burial benefit for the active OWWA member in addition to other related benefits like livelihood. But there will be a minimun financial basic assistance for all,” Cacdac said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mon Jocson/Jaycel Valera)

Solon pushes for military honors for OFWs who died of COVID-19 abroad

Marje Pelayo   •   July 7, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — A lawmaker is pushing for the granting of military honors to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who succumbed to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) abroad as they can be considered as ‘modern-day heroes.’

Senior Citizen Party-list Rep. Francisco Datol Jr. in House Resolution No. 1027 said the sacrifices of OFWs and their significant contribution to the country’s economy are enough to merit them such military honors. 

Based on the latest count of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), a total of 577 OFWs have already died of COVID-19 from the overall number of 8,679 confirmed cases across the globe.

Datol said OFWs are qualified under The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines for their unconditional sacrifices as overseas workers.

The lawmaker also proposed that the government shoulder the complete burial expenses of every OFW who died of COVID-19 abroad as part of the full military honors. 

DOLE seeks P2.5 billion more cash aid for OFWs displaced by pandemic

Robie de Guzman   •   July 6, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is seeking to get additional budget for its cash assistance program for the growing number of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) affected by the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

DOLE said that as of July 4, its overseas offices and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have recorded a total of 551,606 aid applications from land-based and sea-based workers who are either still in host countries or have already returned to the Philippines.

“The fund released to us is fast depleting. So far, our offices approved the requests of 224,756 OFWs, 128,348 of whom are still locked down or stranded in their countries of work,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a statement.

The agency had been given P2.5 billion in two tranches to finance its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program, a one-time cash aid of $200 or P10,000 to help Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic. The budget for the program came from the emergency fund under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Of the 250,000 expected beneficiaries of the program, around 188,473 have already received the cash aid from DOLE as of July 4 amounting to some P1.927 billion, DOLE said.

Of those who have received the aid, 105,756 are on-site while the remaining beneficiaries have returned to the country, it added.

With additional funding, AKAP will be able to extend emergency assistance to close to half a million OFWs, Bello said.

Bello hopes that President Rodrigo Duterte will grant their request to extend help to more OFWs in need.

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