MANILA – Labor Secretary Silvestre “Bebot” Bello III was very enthusiastic to announce that within three days, stranded overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) can go home to their respective provinces during a live radio-TV interview Monday morning.
“Di na namin ipaabot ng isang linggo. Sa loob ng tatlong araw ay pipilitin namin na ‘yong 4,000 na mga kababayan natin na naghihirap sa quarantine facilities ay pauuwiin natin by air, by land, at by sea, gamit ang lahat na facilities para makakauwi na sila,” (We cannot wait for one week. Within three days we will strive that 4,000 of our citizens that have been suffering at the quarantine facilities to go home, by air, by land or by sea, all facilities are offered to them so that they can go home).
Secretary Bello admitted that they had a meeting with the president last weekend and they were given an ultimatum of one week to bring home all stranded OFWs at the quarantine facilities in Metro Manila. He believes that those OFWs have undergone the required 14-day quarantine and their initial findings are negative of Covid-19 so there is no point of waiting for another week for them to go home.
He projects that they can process the return of 10,000 OFWs to their provinces per day. “Tatapusin natin ito sa loob ng tatlong araw ng 10,000 OFWs per day. Wala na pong problema sa LGUs. Nag-coordinate na kami ni Sec. Ed Año at sa mga local representative ng DILG at makakauwi na sila,” (Let’s finish this within three days for 10,000 OFWs per day. There is no problem with the LGUs, we have coordinated with Sec. Ed Año and local representatives of DILG so that they can go home).
The labor secretary also said that they are expecting another 44,000 OFWs to return to the country soon so they opened other airports in the country as a new strategy to avoid congestion in Metro Manila. “Open na ngayon ang airport sa Clark, Cebu at all major cities upang doon na sila mag-quarantine,” (Airports in Clark, Cebu and in all major cities are opened so that they can be quarantined there), he said.