CALOOCAN CITY, May 26 (PIA) -- All the 24,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) scheduled to go home within the next three days have tested negative for COVID-19, according to Interior and Local Government Secretary Ediardo Ano on Tuesday.
During the Laging Handa public briefing powered by the Presidential Communication and affiliate state media, Ano said all the 24,000 returning migrant workers have undergone the mandatory strict quarantine protocols and tested negative for COVID-19.
"Unang una, 'yung 24,000 OFWs na ipinag-utos ng ating Pangulo na dapat ay makauwi na sa loob ng tatlong araw, lahat ng ito ay dumaan sa tamang protocols. Merong testing through PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests at lahat ay negative," the official said.
"Meron din silang certificate ng minimum of 14 days quarantine. Kumpleto ang papeles ng mga iyan," he added, as he urged local government units to readily accept them home and provide any necessary assistance so they can be with their loved ones straightaway.
"Ang ating mga LGUs naman ay napaabisuhan natin. Sila naman ay sumusunod at tatanggapin nila ang kanilang mga kababayan. Panahon na rin para makasama ng ating OFWs ang mga mahal nila sa buhay... Nananawagan tayo sa ating local chief executives na safe 'yan at tanggapin natin, tulungan natin," he said.
However, the official said the inter-agency body in charge of the repatriated OFWs is expecting arrivals to reach 60,000 within the next two months, and a total of around 302,000 for the remainder of the year.
"We expect na for the whole year of 2020, ang estimate ng DOLE ay aabot sa 302,000 OFWs, and mostly manggagaling sa Middle East, South America, at sa iba pang dako ng ASEAN countries," Ano said.
"More or less for the next two months, ang iniisip natin ay mga 60,000 ang darating. Ito ay malaking effort talaga kaya kailangan natin ang tulpong ng lahat lalo na ng LGUs," he added.
To recall, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte directed concerned government agencies to expedite the handling of COVID-19 testing and appropriate clearances, as part of the requirements, which would allow the OFWs to return home.
The President went as far as allowing the use of available government resources and all modes of transportation to bring them to their respective hometowns.
Earlier, some OFWs complained that they have been quarantined for up to two months while waiting for the release of their clearances and test results.
"Ang gusto sana natin ay mabilis lang ang pagdating ng ating OFWs, saglit lang sila titigil sa Metro Manila at after ng testing at result ay mai-ship natin sila. Gusto natin n asana mai-group natin lahat ng taga-Mindanao, taga-Visayas... Susundin natin lahat ng protocols para siguradong safe ang ating mga kababayan sa destinasyon ng ating OFWs," Ano said. (PIA NCR)