Año says up to LGUs if they want to retest or quarantine arriving OFWs
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año on Tuesday said it is up to the local government units (LGUs) if they still want to retest or quarantine the overseas Filipinos workers (OFW) who will return to their hometowns despite being tested negative for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“If the LGU still wants to quarantine or test (the OFWs), it’s up to them. We do not actually forbid them to do that… what we are saying is they (OFWs) are already safe and can go home now. They can also undergo home quarantine,” Año said in a radio interview.
“There’s no problem, no disagreement on the additional protocols (or) safety measures that LGUs will apply,” he added.
Año said he understand local government officials are just being careful for their area to not be infected, especially those who really has zero COVID-19 cases.
“Just to be careful, they are adding additional (measures). There is no problem with that… let’s give the LGUs who are implementing own (health) protocols respect as long as it is not violating the national guidelines,” he said.
“We encourage LGUs to only isolate and test (OFWs) who are showing symptoms… but since they are already cleared, they are safe to go home,” Año added.
Año admitted that LGUs were not informed that around 24,000 OFWs will start to go back to their hometown because President Rodrigo Duterte only gave the directive to them last Sunday.
“That night, we called the League of Provinces of the Philippines to inform them about this directive… our protocol is they should be inform three days before but was not followed because the order was sudden,” he said.
“This is a special situation. Through the regions we informed them and second, we are assuring them that the results of the PCR test of 24,000 OFWs are negative and we provided the buses, airplanes, ships," he added.
Año said this will show how fast LGUs react.
“Instead of complaining and whining, you just have to face the situation and do it,” he said.
Año reiterated that OFWs should not be stopped from going home and will be allowed to pass through checkpoints.
President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered concerned government agencies to send home in one week some 24,000 overseas Filipinos workers who have been staying in the quarantine facilities and ships anchored at Manila Bay. Ella Dionisio/DMS