More than 16,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have gone home to their respective hometowns this week, according to President Rodrigo Duterte’s spokesman.
There are 8,000 more have to be sent home to their home provinces within the week after Duterte on Monday ordered government agencies to bring some 24,000 OFWs to their hometowns until the end of the month.
“Lahat po ito na mahigit 16,000, bago pinauwi negatibo po sila sa COVID-19 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test (All of the 16,000 OFWs tested negative for COVID-19 before they were sent home.), ” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Thursday.
Roque said 2 ships are expected to ferry some 1,200 OFWs to Visayas and Mindanao, while 100 buses were deployed to transport stranded repatriates within Luzon.
Workers who have yet to receive their certificates of completion for the mandatory 14-day quarantine can check for their documents at the Bureau of Quarantine website, Roque said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) previously assured local government units that the returning OFWs underwent quarantine and have health certificates to prove that they are clear of the virus in light of apprehensions by some local officials.
Meanwhile, Malacañang expressed confidence that Filipinos will continue to follow quarantine protocols should the government move to further ease COVID-19 restrictions.
Roque issued the statement ahead of Duterte’s announcement slated for Thursday evening on the fate of the community quarantines, especially in Metro Manila, the hotbed of coronavirus infection in the Philippines, by June 1.
“The level of confidence is very high. Unang-una napatunayan ng mga Pilipino na kaya nilang sumunod dahil naman, by and large, itong more than 70 days na tayong nagkaroon ng ECQ at MECQ, ay pinatunayan natin na disiplinado po ang mga Pilipino,” Roque said in a televised briefing.
The Palace official reiterated his warning that stricter quarantine measures could be reimposed should there be a rapid surge in new infections.
“Tingin ko alam ng mga Pilipino na mas malaki ‘yung magiging banta sa kanilang buhay at kabuhayan kung sa puntong ito, matapos nawalan tayo ng 70 days tayo at nakakulong tayo sa ating mga pamamahay, ay babalik sila sa dati,” he said.
Duterte was expected to decide later Thursday whether to adopt the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to place Metro Manila under a less strict general community quarantine from June 1 to 15.
The National Capital Region is currently under a modified enhanced community quarantine./Stacy Ang