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DILG Secretary Eduardo Año / PNA

Police asked to allow movement of 24,000 OFWs 

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Interior Secretary Eduardo Año asked police officers manning quarantine control points (QCPs) not to hamper the transport of the 24,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) going back to their hometowns.

“Starting today up to Wednesday, (we have) 24,000 OFWs (returning to their provinces) using buses, airplanes and ships. All these OFWs have undergone RT-PCR testing and all turned out negative. They have a certificate of quarantine so we are informing the public on this as we can see various movements in the next three days,” he said in a radio interview.

Año said that the delay of allowing the OFWs to go out of the quarantine was due to the encoding, printing and other functions.

"'Yung iba dyan dalawang buwan na dito sa Maynila kaya sana ay smooth passage itong lahat ng OFWs natin [Some of them were in quarantine for two months here in Manila, I hope for the smooth passage of all our OFWs]," Año said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, commander of the Joint Task Force Corona Virus Shield has alerted all police commanders across the country regarding the exodus of OFWs back to their hometowns.

Eleazar said all police commanders were advised to assist in the transport of the arriving OFWs in their respective points of destination.

“Our task is to ensure the safe and unhampered passage of our OFWs. We should make sure that they'll be accorded with courtesy and respect that they deserve,” Eleazar said in a statement sent to reporters.

The move was in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to expedite the return of the stranded OFWs back to their homes.

To protect the OFWs from harassment and other forms of discrimination, police assistance is needed, Eleazar pointed out.

In response, the Department of Health (DOH), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) arranged several modes of transportations for the returning OFWs that include buses, passenger planes and ships.

Eleazar said that based on the instruction of Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, the OFWs who were subjected to mandatory quarantine will be released from the quarantine sites of the OWWA starting Monday to Wednesday.

They will be fetched from their respective quarantine sites and will immediately be transported to various transport hubs for the land, air, and sea travels back to their hometowns.

“As per SILG (Secretary of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año), the plan is to transport 8,000 who have already finished the mandatory quarantine and tested negative in their RT-PCR Test every day from May 25 to May 27,” said Eleazar.

Citing instructions from Año, Eleazar said buses will be available for the OFWs who are en route to Bicol, Ilocos Region and other parts of Luzon while there will be available flights to Cagayan de Oro City, Tacloban City, Bacolod City, Davao City, Cebu City, Iloilo City, and Zamboanga City.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, more buses, ships, and flights will be available for the stranded OFWs.

A one-stop-shop of government agencies will also be set up at the airport to assist the OFWs while waiting for their flight back home.

Eleazar said police commanders have been advised to facilitate the smooth travel of the returning OFWs amid possibilities that they may be barred entry in their hometowns.

“If it requires that we escort the vehicles of our returning OFWs, so be it. The instruction of our SILG and Chief PNP is to ensure that we provide all the necessary assistance for them on their travel back home,” said Eleazar.

“For as long as the OFWs have with them copies of Quarantine Certificate from the Bureau of Quarantine and a proof that they are on the list of those who tested negative for Covid-19, their travel back to their homes should not be denied or delayed,” he added.

Eleazar said that local police forces in the points of destination of the OFWs are also expected to take the lead in ironing out any glitches that may arise in the arrival of the OFWs in their respective areas of responsibility.

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