President Duterte vows to help returning migrant workers
MANILA – With the continuous arrival of foreign-based Filipino workers, the national leadership deemed it wise to temporarily suspend incoming flights as other agencies improve the COVID-19 quarantine facilities and rapid testing.
In his late night address Monday, President Duterte assured inbound migrant workers of fast screening so they can immediately return to their homes in and outside the National Capital Region and be with their families.
“But you know Filipinos are citizens of this country. And whether we like it or not they have this constitutional right to travel – and to travel abroad and to come home after working there. This cannot be just by the wave of the hand,” he said.
He said the leadership will study ways and means to help returning Filipino workers, where they would be temporarily placed during the 14-day quarantine.
“And we can make provisions for food and everything rather than just leave them there stranded,” he emphasized. He underscored the fact workers need not spend their savings while in quarantine.
National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez said they have prepared for the return of overseas workers who lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has paid for the meals and hotel accommodations and assisted by manning companies, in the case of Filipino seafarers who have returned home.
To immediately clear the quarantine facilities of overseas workers, the government has begun constructing mega-testing centers to screen incoming Filipinos.
“After they were tested negative, maybe after three or four days, they can go home already with the certification from the Bureau of Quarantine that they are COVID-19-free,” Secretary Galvez, a retired military general, said.
He explained it is their goal to subject 23,000 persons under swabbing.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said 24,422 overseas workers have been repatriated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 16,936 of the repatriates are seafarers mostly working in cruise ships. (Melo M. Acuña)
President Rodrigo Duterte. (Screen Grab from PTV4)