OFWs assure situation in UAE still normal but ready to repatriate if needed

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 9, 2020   •   232

Several Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said the situation in their area is still normal but they are ready to repatriate if needed.

Marlon Faeldon, an OFW based in Dubai, said they are also monitoring the situation in the Middle East amid the tension between the United States (US) and Iran.

“Kung saka-sakali mang may utos ang Pangulong Duterte, isa na ako sa mga magvo-volunteer na umuwi kasi ayaw ko namang mag-alala iyong aking mga mahal sa buhay (In case President Duterte orders for a repatriation, I will also volunteer because I don’t want my loved ones to worry),” he said.

Other OFWs also want to assure their families in the Philippines that they are still safe in the Middle East.

“Sa Pilipinas po, huwag po kayong mag-alala, okay lang po kami dito (Those in the Philippines, don’t worry, we are okay here),” according to Sam Labaniego.

“Okay lang kami rito (we are okay here),” Trixsie Mallari assured as well.—AAC (with reports from Bert Cerrudo)

Filipinos from Wuhan ‘all well and safe’, cleared to go home after quarantine – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos repatriated from Wuhan City in China are now allowed to go home as they showed no signs and symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after their 14-day quarantine period, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

In a statement, the DOH said the 30 Filipinos and 19 others who returned from Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – will be released after they manifested no signs of fever, cough, or sore throat during their 14-day stay at the quarantine facility in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac.

A send-off ceremony will be held on February 22, Saturday to mark the completion of their mandatory quarantine, the department said.

“We are glad that our repatriates are all well and safe from COVID-19. Our repatriation mission is not possible without the dedication and cooperation of the entire Interagency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases with all its member agencies,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“We are extremely grateful for the collective effort of the government,” he added.

The DOH, meanwhile, revealed that another batch of Filipinos is set to be quarantined in the facility following their arrival this weekend.

This batch is composed of about 460 to 480 Filipinos from the virus-hit M/V Diamond Princess cruise ship who availed of the government’s repatriation program.

The health department said the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has already adopted a repatriation plan for the return of the Filipinos from Yokohama, Japan.

They are also coordinating with the World Health Organization, the Philippine Embassy in Japan and the Magsaysay Maritime Corporation for the repatriation process.

Under the repatriation plan, the DOH shall provide health human resources and transportation to the quarantine site, on-site medical needs of the repatriates, hospitalization expenses through Philhealth, and personal protective equipment (PPE) for the first five days of the quarantine period.

Magsaysay Maritime Corporation will bear the cost of transportation expenses, food, lodging, personal hygiene kits and disinfectants, and other expenses.

The Department of Transportation will shoulder the transportation of repatriates from Haribon hangar in Pampanga to New Clark City, while the OWWA will provide livelihood packages to the repatriates, and their transportation from Manila to their respective destinations after the quarantine period.

“We would like to assure Filipinos abroad that our government is working tirelessly to ensure that no Filipino gets left behind in our fight against COVID-19. DOH and the Philippine government are prepared to undertake all measures to care for our kababayans, no matter where they are,” Duque said.

Construction of first hospital for OFWs set to begin – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   February 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The construction of the first hospital for overseas Filipino workers (OFW) is set to begin following the signing of a memorandum of agreement for the project between the government and private donors, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said Friday.

In a statement, DOLE said the deal which signals the commencement of the project construction was signed in a ceremony held last week in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III led the signing of the agreement with representatives from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Health, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor), other officials from the local government and the Bloomberry Cultural Foundation.

Under the agreement, Pagcor will donate P200 million for the acquisition and installation of equipment and facilities for the hospital, while Bloomberry Cultural Foundation will shoulder the cost of construction amounting to P400 million.

The local government of Pampanga has donated a two-hectare property in Barangay Sindalan for the project.

In his remarks during the signing ceremony, Bello lauded the signatories’ commitment to building the first and only hospital in the Philippines that will provide free medical services to the country’s modern-day heroes.

“This hospital is going to be built to recognize the heroism of our OFWs who continue to power economic growth in the country,” Bello said.

“It’s a fitting tribute to Filipino workers who, through their valuable remittances, have kept the economy afloat during many challenging times,” he added.

DOLE said the hospital is expected to be completed in May 2021.

Once completed, the hospital will render free services when OFWs are securing medical certificates covering laboratory exams and other requirements for their overseas deployment. 

DFA: Filipino workers can now return to Hong Kong, Macau despite coronavirus travel ban

Robie de Guzman   •   February 18, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Filipinos working in Macau and Hong Kong can now return to their jobs despite the travel ban being implemented on China and its territories due to the threat of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday.

In a Twitter post, DFA Undersecretary Brigido “Dodo” Dulay announced that Filipino migrants returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban.

However, Dulay said they will be subjected to “certain procedural formalities.”

“OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) returning for work in Hong Kong and Macau have been exempted from the outbound travel ban by the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) subject to certain procedural formalities,” he said.

Hundreds of Filipino workers bound for Hong Kong and Macau were left stranded in the Philippines after President Rodrigo Duterte on February 2 imposed travel restrictions on China and its territories hit with the deadly virus.

Stranded migrant workers were offered P10,000 cash assistance, and provided with dormitories and food while they await the lifting of the travel ban.

Groups of OFWs have earlier appealed to the government to let them return to China and its territories in fear of losing their jobs.

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