President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has ordered the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), the Department of Labor and Employment and the Department of Health to ensure that some 24,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who are currently awaiting results of their RT-PCR tests for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), would be sent home within the week.
Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr., on Monday, May 25, underscored the President’s directive to fast-track the process of sending the repatriated OFWs to their home provinces and to their families as soon as they test negative for COVID-19.
“Sang-ayon po sa Presidente, binibigyan nya ng awtoridad ang lahat ng mga opisyales ng mga departamentong ito na gamitin po ang lahat ng resources ng ating gobyerno para masiguradong makauwi ngayong linggo ang ating mga kababayan,” said Secretary Roque.
The Palace official added that if private or commercial buses, ships and airplanes would not be enough to bring home the OFWs, the President has ordered the use of the ships and airplanes of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for this purpose.
As of today, May 25, 2020, the OWWA has started sending home the repatriated OFWs. Those from Luzon were ferried through buses and ships, while those going to Visayas and Mindanao boarded especially commissioned flights.
“Sabi rin po ng ating Presidente, kinakailangan palawakin po ang kakayahan ng ating mga probinsya na magkaroon ng PCR test para sa ganoon po, yung mga susunod na darating na OFW ay dun na po sa kani-kanilang mga probinsya magku-quarantine at dun na po sila magpapa-PCR test,” Roque said.
For those who are yet to receive copies of their quarantine certificates, which they will need to go home, the Palace spokesman assured that the OWWA already has a system in place in which they give out copies of the certificate before the OFWs board a plane, bus, or ship.
In the same media briefing, the Spokesperson also gave updates on the recent resolutions of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Resolution Number 38 of the IATF approved amendments, revisions and/or clarifications to the Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine in the Philippines.
Salient points of the revised Omnibus Guidelines include allowing full operational capacity for several sectors under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ). These sectors include public or private hospitals; health and emergency frontline services; manufacturers of medicines, medical supplies, devices and equipment including suppliers; workers in agriculture, forestry and fishery industries; and delivery and courier services of food, medicine, essential goods, clothing accessories, hardware, housewares, school/office supplies, pet food, and veterinary products.
Also allowed with 50 percent operational capacity in ECQ are work in private establishments that provide essential goods and services, media establishments, and workers in railway-related projects accredited by the Department of Transportation.
“Idinagdag din sa bagong guidelines sa ilalim ng ECQ, sa skeleton force, ang mga sumusunod: printing presses as authorized by the BIR to print ORs and accountable forms, companies engaged in repair and maintenance of machine, including computers and household fixtures, [and] real estate activities limited to leasing only,” said Secretary Roque.
Gatherings that are for the provision of critical government services and authorized humanitarian activities are now allowed in ECQ, modified ECQ, and general community quarantine (GCQ) under the revised Omnibus Guidelines.
Meanwhile, IATF Resolution Number 39 approved the recommendations of the Department of Science and Technology on the participation of the Philippines in the clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines, and its plan to establish a research center that will go forward with local vaccine development. ### OPS-PCOO