MANILA: Returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are receiving special treatment from the government to ensure their protection amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, Malacañang said on Saturday.
The statement was issued to dispute the claim of labor group Migrante International that President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration is neglecting the repatriated OFWs allegedly “dumped like garbage in Metro Manila’s airport terminals.”
During the Laging Handa Program aired on state media PTV-4, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the government is attending to the needs of OFWs who are returning to the country.
Roque also noted that the government had even shouldered the cost of OFWs’ transportation and tests for Covid-19.
“Hindi po iyan garbage-like treatment. VIP treatment po iyan (That’s not garbage treatment. That is VIP treatment),” he said.
In a statement on Friday, Migrante International claimed that OFWs are being made to feel “the maximum brunt of the Duterte regime’s ineptitude.“
The labor group also alleged that the Duterte government has yet to give appropriate assistance to the returning OFWs.
Refuting the Migrante International, Roque said around 22,436 OFWs in various quarantine facilities in Metro Manila have already been sent home after testing negative for Covid-19.
Roque said their return to their respective homes has become possible due to Duterte’s call for local government units (LGUs) to accept the returning OFWs.
“Ang mabuting balita po, sa ngayon po, araw ng Sabado, meron pang isang araw, out of 24,000, 22,426 na po ang napauwi (The good news is as of Saturday, around 22,426 out of the 24,000 OFWs have already returned to their homes),” he said.
In a public address delivered on Thursday, Duterte stressed that there was “no reason” for LGUs not to accept OFWs “with open arms,” especially if they tested negative for Covid-19.
The national government is expediting the processing and release of Covid-19 test results of OFWs to accommodate a new batch of repatriates expected to arrive in May and June.
Some 300,000 OFWs are set to return to the country this year.
(PNA/ Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos/ SRNY/ RSP)