President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday asked local government executives to allow the entry into their jurisdictions of overseas Filipino workers who would undergo their mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return to the country.
Duterte indicated that some local governments had been resisting the entry of some migrant workers even after they had been cleared of the virus.
"I’d like to address myself to the local executives: It is your duty to help and protect your constituents. I want no quarrel. You want the contagion stopped right there at the doorstep," Duterte said.
"What do we do with people waiting tapos okay naman sila? You have to go into testing each and every one of them and find out if they are fit to return… But to say that hindi kayo puwede pumasok, then the national government will insist that you accept the OFW," he added.
"Magkakaroon po tayo ng problema if you resist because then, as a worker of government, it falls upon my shoulders to see to it that everything is done fairly," Duterte said.
Several seafarers were previously stranded in Metro Manila for over a month due to guidelines of their respective local government units on COVID-19 testing and quarantine for returning Filipino workers.
“I heard also, I’m sure sa City of Iloilo, hindi ninyo tinanggap yung mga OFW. Sir, mayor, nakikiusap ako sa inyo na sundin lang ninyo ‘yung guidelines,” Duterte said.
In April, some 300 returning OFWs were held off for hours by local authorities in Batangas who denied entry to them in fear of possible COVID-19 transmission.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has since ordered local governments to allow vehicles ferrying OFWs to pass through their vicinities.
Duterte acknowledged local authorities’ sentiments behind their refusal to allow OFWs to enter, but underscored that they “have to come to terms with the constitution.”
“I will operate through the DILG kasi it’s either sumunod kayo or I will impose it on you,” he warned.
The president also noted that remittances from OFWs account for a bulk of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
“‘Yang remittances ng dollar is one of the pillars ng ating economy. Ang GDP is malaki ang binibigay ng OFWs. We do not want to repay them with this kind of behavior,” Duterte said.
Zamboanga COVID-19 cases
Meanwhile, members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Disease noted a sudden uptick in COVID-19 cases in Zamboanga.
Cases in the Zamboanga Peninsula only totaled eight on April 30, but surged to 41 on Sunday, according to data from the Department of Health.
“Sa Zamboanga, Cagayan, ngayon lang pumutok. That’s a problem because, before, narinig ko na… I do not want to quarrel with the mayors, but they took the warning nonchalantly,” Duterte said.
Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the COVID-19 action plan, earlier said testing centers were being set up in Zamboanga City to address the sudden surge in infections. -NB/LDF, GMA News