Isabela City in Basilan promises to improve quarantine facilities

The city government of Isabela in Basilan promised to improve its quarantine facilities afer two returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) complained about the temporary lodging where they would have to stay before being allowed to return to their respective homes.

The city government said in a Facebook post that Mayor Sitti Djalia Turabin went to the city's quarantine facility for returning OFWs and stranded residents – the HAPIsabela BAYANIhan Reception Facility at the Begang National High School – late Monday night, May 25, after hearing about the complaints.

“Our attention was called to the seeming unpreparedness of the facility and our personnel. We sincerely apologize for the shortcomings and commit to improving our services. The mayor personally visited them immediately after the complaint was brought to her attention, past 10 in the evening, May 25,” the city government said.

It said that the first OFW who was brought to the facility worked for a cruise ship, and stayed at the 3-star Bayview Hotel in Manila for two months before he was transported back to Basilan.

“We thus understand the disappointment of moving from a [3]-star hotel to a public high school in the province. Nonetheless, we reiterate our commitment to improve the facility,” the city government said.

The Isabela City government noted that it has never refused to welcome back repatriated OFWs and returning  residents. Other communities in the country have been less welcoming to OFWs and residents returning from places with coronavirus cases, like Metro Manila, for fear that they would bring home the dread disease.

“Despite the risks and protests from some sectors, we worked and continue to work, in coordination with the Provincial Government of Basilan for their safe return and provide free, decent temporary accommodation and basic needs (food, water, electricity, clinic, psychosocial support) while on mandatory quarantine upon their arrival,” the city government said.

The city government added: “We must not close our doors to our own people who wish to come home. And we appeal for patience and support both from those coming back and those who are here.”

The city government advised future guests of its two isolation facilities that they have to bring their own beddings, blankets, pillows, towels, toiletries, slippers, and mosquito nets. It said relatives can also provide these for their family members.

“This is to avoid contamination and for their own safety,” it said.

The city government also said that after they are turned over to the local government by the government’s coronavirus task force, returning OFWs and residents can opt to stay in a hotel or pension house in the city at their own expense. But they are not permitted to receive visitors there.

The HAPIsabela BAYANIhan Reception Facility is for those without symptoms, while those with symptoms will stay at the 30-bed facility for those with COVID-19 symptoms, at the 4th SF Battalion in Cabunbata. –