MORE THAN 13,000 Filipinos remained stranded on the main Philippine island of Luzon, where various levels of lockdowns have been imposed to contain a coronavirus pandemic, according to the government.

The government is working on fast-tracking their return to the provinces, Joseph B. Encabo, who is leading efforts to send these people home, said at an online news briefing on Wednesday.

Under the rules, one must first undergo rapid testing for the COVID-19 virus and get a negative result before being sent home.

About 53,000 Filipinos have gone home to their home provinces, Mr. Encabo said. Those who can travel by land are sent to the Parañaque bus terminal, while those who must travel by air are sent to the domestic airport.

He said they were consolidating the list of stranded people to determine the appropriate transportation needed to send them home.

Local governments must not bar these people from coming in because that is their legal right, he added.

The government earlier said it would limit the arrival of Filipino workers from overseas to 1,200 daily after reports of congestion at facilities in Metro Manila.

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana said they wanted to control the entry of returning overseas Filipinos including seafarers as 42,000 more were expected to arrive.

Thousands of OFWs earlier got stranded in Manila and failed to go to their hometowns.

Mr. Lorenzana said they would increase the limit to 1,500 or 2,000 and expedite their clearance once the capacity is increased.

Returning OFWs will only now have to stay in Metro Manila for five days before being sent home, assuming they are coronavirus-free, the Defense chief said. He added that there were now enough coronavirus testing facilities. — Gillian M. Cortez