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Duterte gives DOLE, OWWA, DOH one week to let 24,000 OFWs waiting in Manila to go home

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday gave the Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Health one week to let 24,000 overseas Filipino workers waiting in Manila to go home.

The OFWs have completed their 14-day mandatory quarantine in quarantine facilities in Metro Manila after they were repatriated, but they have not yet been allowed to leave since their COVID-19 test results have not yet been released.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte ordered the DOLE, OWWA and DOH to use all resources to ensure the OFWs will be able to go home in a week's time. 

"Sabi po ng Presidente, ang mga ahensiya ng gobyerno ay authorized to use all resources of the government and authorized to use all modes of transportation —buses, airplanes, and ships — para mapauwi na po itong 24,000 na ating mga kababayan,” Roque said an interview on Unang Balita.

Roque cited Duterte as saying that OFWs should not experience more difficulty in the country after spending years working abroad.

"Hindi katanggap-tangap sa Pangulo ang matagal na proseso na naka-quarantine na OFW," he said.

Roque added that Duterte ordered intensifying the capacity of provinces in conducting PCR-based testing so repatriated OFWs can undergo quarantine in their respective areas of residence.

“Pinag-utos din ng Presidente na palakasin ang PCR testing sa iba’t ibang probinsiya para sa darating na mga araw pauuwiin na ang mga OFWs doon na sila magka-quarantine sa kanilang probinsiya,” he said.

“Ang sabi ni President hindi na dapat maulit ito,” he added, referring to OFWs getting stranded in Metro Manila due to the delay in the release of results of the test conducted on them. 

Quoting Duterte, Roque said someone will be held accountable if the government agencies fail to accomplish the order.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Wednesday said a problem with encoding test results of OFWs for COVID-19 has been causing the delay in their release from quarantine facilities.

“Ang nagiging problema ngayon is encoding, ‘yung pagi-encode ng mga datos at tsaka ‘yung mga resulta,” Vergeire said. —with Joviland Rita/KG/KBK, GMA News