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Local execs want OFWs to undergo quarantine, COVID-19 test anew in provinces

The League of Provinces of the Philippines on Tuesday insisted on having repatriated OFWs undergo quarantine and COVID-19 test once they returned to their home provinces, even if they have tested negative before.

“Galing po sila sa labas at nagsisiguro lang po kami sa mga probinsiya na general community quarantine na po,” said Marinduque Gov. Presbitero Velasco, the group's president, in an interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

“Natatakot din po. May agam-agam dahil baka po merong carrier pa rin kahit po asymptomatic ay possible carriers. Doble ingat lang po.”

Velasco, who also chairs  the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), appealed to the OFWs and their families for understanding, noting the sacrifices made by residents to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in their communities.

According to Velasco, most of the provincial governments will require returning OFWs to undergo quarantine either in a designated facility or at their respective home.

This, despite the fact that many of these OFWs had overstayed in quarantine facilities in the National Capital Region while waiting for the release of their COVID-19 test result -- a requirement for them before going home.

After reports of repatriated OFWs being stranded for months inside quarantine facilities, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered concerned agencies to bring the 24,000 OFWs to their home provinces within the week.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) administrator Hans Leo Cacdac argued that these OFWs already tested negative in a PCR-based test, which means they are free from the disease.

He underscored that Duterte’s order to send the OFWs home is clear, and that the process should be more facilitative than regulatory.

“Ano pa po ang hinihintay natin?” Cacdac said in a separate interview on Dobol B sa News TV.

Citing an experience of an OFW, Cacdac said an LGU, which he refused to name, conducted another PCR test to the returning OFW. The results turned negative but the OFW was asked to undergo another 14-day quarantine in a facility.

After the quarantine period, the OFWs underwent a rapid test, which has a 40% credibility, Cadac said.  When the result turned positive, the LGU tested the OFW again using PCR. After she was tested negative, the LGU allowed her to go home, he said.

Cacdac said the OFWs should just be isolated inside his or her home with the monitoring of barangay health officials and not in a designated facility so that they could be with their families already.

Duterte warned local executives that keeping the thousands of repatriated Filipino migrants from returning home would be a violation of the law.

"It is very cruel to deny them to go home," Duterte had said. --KBK, GMA News