Only 1,200 repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) daily will be accepted in the country’s airports to accommodate the influx of returning Filipinos brought about by COVID-19 without clogging quarantine facilities in Metro Manila.
In President Rodrigo Duterte’s June 5 address, Department of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the initial 1,200 limit can increase up to 2,000 individuals allowed entry per day, but this is dependent on the availability of facilities and resources.
Lorenzana, who is also the chairperson of the National Action Plan (NAP) on COVID-19, said the government is working prevent the flooding of ports: “Ang pinagtutuunan namin ng pansin ngayon ‘yung repatriation pa rin ng mga OFWs tsaka seafarers kasi ayaw natin maulit ang nangyari noong nakaraang buwan na naipon sila sa Manila at may inabot pa ng isang buwan.”
“I-control lang natin ang pagdating siguro 1,200 a day. Kung medyo lumuwag pa we can increase to 1,500 or 2,000 para mabilis ang ating processing,” he added.
Lorenzana met with Department of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Ano, and Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. to accommodate returning OFWs.
According to Lorenzana, repatriated OFWs can look forward to faster results for COVID-19 tests as authorities want to send them home only five days after arrival.
“Kapag dumating ‘yung OFW, maximum araw na manatili sila sa Manila ay limang araw lang. It could be less but the maximum is five days,” he said.
He said Metro Manila is equipped with enough testing facilities to conduct the mandatory COVID-19 testing of returning OFWs.
Lorenzana quoted Bello and said over 42,000 OFWs are expected to fly back to the Philippines in the coming weeks.
The government will escort other overseas Filipinos (OFs)—such as tourists, students, and foreigners who are permanent Philippine residents—back home.
However, these OFs must shoulder their own testing and quarantine fees.