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Gov’t to address complaints of OFWs stuck in quarantine centers

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The Philippine government assured that it will address complaints of some overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stuck in quarantine facilities beyond the mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on May 19, 2020, he would personally ask the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide an inventory of repatriated OFWs still awaiting results of their coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) tests at government-accredited facilities.

“We will look into this now. We will go out of our way and actually ask OWWA an inventory, lalong-lalo na kung ilan na yung mga napakatagal nang nag-aantay ng resulta (especially those who have been waiting for their results for a long time),” he said in a virtual presser.

He said President Rodrigo Duterte himself is concerned about OFWs, especially since many of them have lost their jobs abroad due to the pandemic.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac earlier appealed to OFWs to be patient as the results were being released in batches.

He also explained that the OWWA was simply following quarantine protocols.

“We want you to reunite with your families, but we have to have an orderly process. We need to fall in line,” Cacdac said.

The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), as of May 13, is manning a total of 80 quarantine facilities (58 are hotels or similar facilities, while 22 are cruise ships) covering 12,476 repatriates.

As of May 14, there are 32,264 repatriates from 362 vessels, of which 22,903 or 71 percent have completed their respective quarantine.

Of the 8,130 land-based repatriates, 7,446 or 92 percent are still in quarantine.

Earlier, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) announced an additional PHP1 billion for its Abot Kamay ang Pagtulong (AKAP) program that provides cash assistance to displaced and stranded OFWs due to the pandemic.

The AKAP program provides a one-time cash aid worth USD200 (PHP10,000) for OFWs.

The DOLE initially put on hold its AKAP program after it received more than 400,000 applications, which is three times more than the agency’s target of 150,000 OFWs with an allotted budget of PHP1.5 billion.

The agency has approved over 100,000 applications for the AKAP program out of the around 411,000 received. (Azer Parrocha, PNA)

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