DAVAO CITY—It was an independence day for John Carlo Bunghanoy, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from New Corella, Davao del Norte, when his airplane finally touched the tarmac of the Francisco Bangoy International Airport in Panacan, Davao City, in the bright Monday morning.
On board that “sweeper flight” from Clark International Airport with Bunghanoy were 161 other passengers, mostly OFWs, stranded in a quarantine facility in Pampanga for 15 days because of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) being enforced in the whole of Luzon and many parts of the country.
Bunghanoy is an OFW in Macau, China who went home in the later part of February for a vacation from work but instead spent his vacation in a two-month mandatory quarantine in China before returning back to the Philippines via Clark International Airport. “Dalawang buwan din na nasa-quarantine ako sa China at akala ko babalik na ako sa Davao ngunit kailangan pa rin namin na mag-quarantine muli sa Pampanga,” Bunghanoy said excitedly while walking towards the lobby of the Bangoy airport.
His face showed signs of exhaustion and fatigue but his lively demeanor at the airport revealed his happiness and excitement to be home again. “Maligaya ako, kaming lahat na safe at hindi kami nagkasakit at salamat sa panalangin ninyo sa amin,” he further said.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, in an interview with a local TV network, said the city is glad the stranded Filipinos are back in Davao City. “Masaya tayo na dumating na ang na-stranded na pasahero na galing sa Clark, Pampanga at matutulongan natin silang bumalik sa kanilang pamilya,” the Mayor said. She further said that many “sweeper flights” may be coming in the next few days so the city is now preparing for this to happen.
Moreover, the city mayor said he will leave it to the Department of Health (DOH) to decide who among the passengers will undergo another quarantine in Davao. “Let’s wait for the doctors to perform the algorithm or a set of protocols upang makapili kung sino sa kanila ang dalhin for swabbing or pwede nang mag-home quarantine,” she further said.
The national government estimates that about 40,000 OFWs may be returning home as soon as the ECQ is lifted in May 15, 2020.