Gov’t promises to send OFWs to their hometowns

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RETURNING Filipino workers from overseas flocked to the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PTIX) on May 25 as some of them were cleared to go to their home provinces after a 14-day quarantine in the capital. — PHILSTAR/EDD GUMBAN

THE GOVERNMENT has vowed to send to their home provinces in the next three days about 24,000 returning overseas Filipino workers (OFW) stuck in the capital after a forced quarantine.

“President Rodrigo R. Duterte ordered us to send them home because they’ve undergone a 14-day quarantine and they tested negative,” Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III told DZMM radio in Filipino on Monday.

The Filipinos were not immediately sent home because their clearances got delayed.

“Within three days, we will try to send the 24,000 workers home by land and by air,” he added.

Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque told DZRH radio that Mr. Duterte had given the Labor and Health departments and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) a week to send all quarantined OFWs home.

The workers have been overstaying in quarantine facilities and some of them have complained about the clearance delays.

The government expects 44,000 more Filipino workers to arrive from abroad by June. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has helped about 29,000 of them to come home.

The last batch of returning Filipinos included 91 workers from India who arrived on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Senator Franklin M. Drilon said OWWA should tap its P20-billion trust fund to provide livelihood assistance to returning Filipinos.

“The OWWA in particular is not doing its best to assist our OFWs,” the lawmaker said in a statement. “It has a P20-B trust fund sitting in banks which it can use to provide livelihood assistance to displaced OFWs.” — Charmaine A. Tadalan