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Pinoy Abroad

IATF vowed OFWs can go home 5 days after 14-day quarantine, says Bello

Amid complaints that some overseas Filipino workers have been staying in quarantine facilities beyond the mandated 14-day period, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Saturday that the government will try to expedite the release of the test results of OFWs so they won't have to overstay in isolation.

“The IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Diseases) committed that from henceforth, ay lilimitahin na nila ‘yung timeframe nang sa ganun, after ng 14-day quarantine, in about five days, makakalabas na ‘yung ating mga OFW,” Bello said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) admitted some OFWs who had been quarantined remained even after the mandated 14-day period, because they were waiting for their test results.

It said some OFWs have been staying at the facilities for as long as over a month and have been complaining about the long wait for their test results.

Under the protocol set by the IATF, repatriated OFWs have to wait for the results of their COVID-19 tests before they can return home.

Recently, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the OWWA reported that some OFWs escaped from quarantine facilities.

According to authorities, they will be charged and arrested with the violation of Bayanihan to Heal as One Act for ignoring health protocols in quarantine.

Migrante International denounced the criminalization of OFWs who escaped from quarantine facilities, saying these workers are themselves traumatized by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of May 23, a total of 29,351 OFWs have now been repatriated by the Department of Foriegn Affairs since it began bringing back Filipinos affected by COVID-19 in February.

Of the total, 66.8% or 19,610 are sea-based and 33.2% or9,741 are land-based. -MDM, GMA News