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8 OFWs to be arrested, charged for escaping quarantine facility


An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who was positive for COVID-19 and escaped along with seven others from their quarantine facility in Manila Bay are to be arrested and charged following the breach of quarantine protocols.

The 49-year-old OFW escaped in Pasay City over the weekend but was immediately spotted by authorities after he went home to Quezon City, according to a 24 Oras report by Raffy Tima on Tuesday.

"Ina-isolate na po siya at nagsu-swab testing na rin 'yung mga Bureau of Quarantine personnel doon sa mga kamag-anak at possible na mga nakasalamuha niya," Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said.

The COVID-19 positive OFW will be arrested and will face charges after he recovers from the hospital.

Authorities are still looking for the seven other escapees. They escaped before their PCR test results came out.

The PCG said they would intensify their surveillance of the remaining OFWs undergoing quarantine in Manila Bay to prevent any future similar incidents.

"Dati kasi may mga nagbabantay pero 'yung ibang hotel, lalo na 'yung overseas Filipino [workers], walang bantay, mga hotel managers lang 'yung namamahala doon sa kanilang paglabas," Balilo said.

Though the PCG understood the frustration of some OFWs, the agency said it was not an excuse for the breach of quarantine guidelines.

"Kahit ba humanitarian, mayroong namatayan, gustong umuwi, pero it would endanger naman 'yung welfare ng other members of the family and the community, ang appeal lang natin maghintay na lang na matapos 'yung testing," Balilo said.

The PCG said about 23,000 OFWs have undergone RT-PCR test and were still waiting for their results.

Only one cruise ship with Filipino crews from more than 20 docked cruise ships in Manila Bay is yet to undergone swabbing. The PCG announces on their Facebook page the names of OFWs who were negative for the virus.

"Kung halimbawang negative kayo at wala naman kayo doon, baka ho parating na 'yung resulta niyo. Kasi kung positive, malamang po sinundo na kayo ng personnel ng Coast Buard at BOQ for isolation," Balilo said.

Some cruise ships have already transported COVID-19 negative OFWs to Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro, while one ship went to Cebu and Iloilo.

The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration admitted some OFWs were had been quarantined beyond the mandated 14-day period but remained as they waited for their test results.

The OWWA, however, reminded that OFWs should receive their official results to avoid problems with their LGUs.

"We were confronted with the issue of volume. In the meantime, 'yung mga dati nang Vis-Min lalo na lumagpas na ang 14 days, tumatakbo rin ang kanilang araw, lumolobo na 'yung pananatili nila roon," Undersecretary Hans Leo Cacdac said. — Jamil Santos/DVM, GMA News