Duterte tells local officials: Accept OFWs returning to hometowns
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte urged local governments to allow repatriated overseas Filipino workers to return to their hometowns as thousands were stuck in quarantine centers after local officials refused to accept them back for fears of spreading the coronavirus.
Duterte issued the directive in a late night press briefing on Monday, May 4, saying it was the duty of local officials to let overseas Filipinos return when the Department of Health certified they completed 14-day quarantine periods and were tested for the virus.
“I’d like to address myself to the local executives, it is your duty to help and protect your constituents. I have no quarrel na you want the contagion stopped right there, there at the doorstep. Huwag ka na lang pumasok dito (Don’t come in) because you contaminate the whole of the family in the house,” Duterte said.
“But to say that just hindi kayo pwedeng pumasok (you can’t come in) even coming from abroad and even if staying there for already more than 14 days without anything happening to them…. Makinig kayong (Listen) local executives, the national government will insist that you accept the OFWs,” he added.
“Magkakaroon ho tayo ng problema (We will have problems) if you resist because then as a worker of government, it falls upon my shoulders to see to it that everything is done fair,” Duterte said.
During his address, Duterte had cited the example of IloIlo City Mayor Jerry Treñas who said that he did not want the repatriated OFWs to “be a source of new cases” but later on moved to charter flights to fetch stranded OFWs from Iloilo.
Like Iloilo, other local government units expressed concerns over allowing OFWs to return to their hometowns after some workers tested positive for the coronavirus when they arrived in their respective localities.
Despite this, Duterte said if overseas Filipinos were found to be free from infection “there’s no valid reason really to delay their return.”
“To dilly-dally on this, it’s to me a cruel thing and it is not good,” Duterte said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said that as of Tuesday, May 5, 16,936 sea-based OFWs and 7,476 land-based Filipinos have returned over the course of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment said a total of 89,436 OFWs from 40 Philippine overseas labor posts around the world were either displaced or on a "no-work, no pay" scheme due to the temporary closure of businesses. – Rappler.com