Pressing concerns of quarantined OFWs addressed by legislators

Chokepoints in the release of quarantine certificates have led to extended isolation in government quarantine facilities. Legislators criticized involved agencies on the inefficiency of carrying out protocols.

The effects of COVID-19 on the global economy has led to massive lay-offs and work suspensions across the globe. Given that the Philippines is one of the leading countries in terms of labor export through overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the government has been facing the volume of returning citizens to the country.

Rep. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela party list cited that the certification from the Philippine Coast Guard has been reported to be a factor of the extended stay of OFWs in quarantine facilities. According to the government protocols for returning OFWs, swabs are taken from OFWs to be processed by the Philippine Red Cross and after which, cleared OFWs would be given clearance to return to their homes in the country. However, complaints have been received that the process takes over months instead of the supposed 14-day quarantine period.

House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs Chairperson Rep. Democrito Mendoza also expressed concerns on the additional costs such as lodging on local governments and OFWs’ families given the extended duration of their stay in quarantine facilities. Rep. Mendoza also added there appears to be a disconnect of policies involving the return of OFWs mentioning the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE).

According to Sec. Carlito Galvez, around 42,000 OFW are expected to return from May to June which would add to some 27,000 repatriated OFWs since the start of the pandemic. Sec. Galvez expressed concerns that quarantine facilities may be overwhelmed given the limited number of existing facilities housing returnees.

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