President Rodrigo Duterte ordered local government units on Monday night to let overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) return home after they were repatriated because of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic.
“In their desire to protect their respective turfs, I can say, if that is the way they will handle it … okay ‘yan, pero alam mo, hindi naman lahat talagang nagkasakit. It is very cruel to deny [OFWs] to go home,” Duterte said.
The president also iterated it is the “constitutional right” of OFWs to go back to their hometowns.
“It is the constitutional right of people to travel and go home. Do not impede it, do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally,” he told LGUs.
“Only the national government can impose restrictions on travel because it is the only agency who can declare that there is an emergency of national interest,” he added.
Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government Eduardo Año announced the 24,000 OFWs who have been repatriated have already undergone polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
“Lahat po ‘yan ay na-test po natin using PCR at lahat po ‘yan ay negative,” Año said.
[Everyone has been tested using PCR and all are negative.]
“Kung sakali lang po na may makakalusot na nawala ‘yong kanyang result at siya ay dumating sa LGU nang walang papeles, ‘yong advice po natin sa LGU, tanggapin ninyo at ilagay ninyo sa quarantine hanggang dumating ‘yong kanyang result,” he added.
[And in case that there are some who does not have their result and somehow arrived in the LGU without their papers, our advice to the LGU would be to accept the OFW and place in them in quarantine until their result arrives.]
Around 62,000 more OFWs are expected to return to the country because of the economic downturn in countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He earlier ordered government agencies to bring some 24,000 stranded OFWs to their home provinces within a week.