The government will look for funds needed to pay for the COVID-19 test and quarantine facility expenses of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday.
“What Budget Secretary [Wendel] Avisado said was we will look for funds because this is needed,” Roque said.
“OWWA needs P9.8 billion additional fund,” he added.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III earlier suggested that the quarantine period for OFWs be shortened by getting them tested upon arrival for lesser government expenses.
Bello said he has received non-stop appeals from OFWs to be tested immediately upon arrival so they could go home to their families if they are found negative.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said quarantine protocols for OFWs cannot be compromised, given the emergence of COVID-19 variants which are more transmissible.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Cacdac said in March that an additional P9.8 billion budget for 2021 is needed to continue shouldering the cost of RT-PCR test, quarantine facility and food of returning OFWs.
“Assuming na magpatuloy itong protocol na seven to nine days mula 1 to 3 days na inilagi sa [quarantine] hotel, P9.8 billion po ang kakailanganin natin. Kasi po ang assumption natin diyan ay at least 2,000 ang lalapag sa international airport araw-araw,” Cacdac said.
(Assuming this protocol goes on that each OFW needs to stay in the quarantine hotel, we will need P9.8 billion. That is because we assume that at least 2,000 OFWs will be arriving every day.)
“Mga 60,000 [OFWs] po iyan sa isang buwan at sa walong buwan ay aabot ng 480,000, So kailangan po talaga ng supplemental funding natin P9.8 billion po ang kahilingan natin,” Cacdac added.
(That means having 60,000 OFWs in a month, a number that will reach 480,000 in eight months. That is why we really need that P9.8 billion budget).—LDF, GMA News