5K remaining OFWs to return home this week

5K remaining OFWs to return home this week

Close to 5,000 overseas Filipino workers who were stuck in quarantine facilities will return to their hometowns this week, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Friday.

“As of this morning, we are just short by about 5,000 still waiting to be transported for their homecoming to accomplish what we were tasked to do. As of last night, we were able to facilitate sending home 19,010 OFWs,” Bello said in a virtual presser at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) main office in Manila, adding that they are looking to send the remaining OFWs either on Friday or Saturday.

Bello said those who have already been sent home number include 5,000 of the 8,000 sea-based workers from the 26 cruise ships docked at the Manila Bay.

“Some 5,000 seafarers have been sent home already. They are included (in the) 24,000 (OFWs),” Bello added.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered that the OFWs in quarantine facilities be sent home within a week.

Bello also apologized to the OFWs for the inconvenience they experienced in the past several weeks while under quarantine.

“We apologize for the anxiety and discomfort that the unwarranted suffering may have caused our dear OFWs, all 24,000 or so of them. We committed to safely bring home our OFWs who were virtually locked up in various quarantine facilities over an extended period of time,” Bello said.

He said the government did not intend to delay the OFWs’ return with their prolonged quarantine and test results.

“Our office simply had no control over the testing and issuance of clearances to them,” he added.

To prevent problems in the processing of returning OFWs, a command center was created as repository of data and information on the volumes of Filipinos being repatriated to the country.

“This center will guide us in the formulation of proactive measures and crafting of policies in dealing with repatriation, reintegration, and assistance to OFWs who have been profiled even prior to their return to the Philippines,” he said.

He added that the center will also be of great help in the global mapping of inbound OFWs, and even outbound workers who will be deployed to host countries that already lifted travel restrictions. —Source: Ferdinand Patinio / (PNA)

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