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495 Filipinos repatriated from Sabah amid COVID-19 pandemic

The first batch of Filipinos who were stranded in Malaysia, most of whom were undocumented workers, have been repatriated back to the Philippines.

According to Marisol Abdurahman's Saturday report on "24 Oras Weekend," the 495 returnees arrived at Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on Friday night from Sabah.

They were welcomed by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque as well as Tawi-Tawi Governor Yshmael Sali.

"Nag usap-usap nga kami nila governor kung anong maitutulong ng lokal at saka ng nasyonal para mapabuti ang inyong buhay," Galvez said.

"Ang isa ngayong gustong mangyari ni presidente ay mabigyan kayo ng trabaho rito para hindi na kayo pupunta roon," Lorenzana, meanwhile, said.

According to the National Defense Department, the returnees were in a Malaysian facility since February when they were overtaken by the COVID-19 pandemic, delaying their return.

While the returnees were swab tested in Malaysia, they would still be quarantined in Tawi-Tawi.

At present, there were more than 4,000 Filipinos who were scheduled to return to the country from Sabah. — Joahna Lei Casilao/DVM, GMA News