Wed. Aug 4th, 2021

MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has established Sub-Task Unit (STU) for the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a virtual presser on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary and AITF-EID spokesperson Karlo Nograles said the STU will be under the National Task Force (NTF) Task Group on Response Operations.

He added that the STU will facilitate the quarantine requirement of all repatriated OFWs, whether sea-based or land-based.

The STU will be composed of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) as chair, and the Departments of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Health (DOH), Foreign Affairs (DFA), Interior and Local Government (DILG), Tourism (DOT), and Transportation (DOTr) as members.

Members of the sub-task unit also include the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), and such other agencies as may be determined by the National Task Force against Covid-19.

The OFWs will temporarily stay in Manila to undergo mandatory quarantine before returning to their hometowns as part of Covid-19 health protocols.

The arrangement for the accommodations of the returning OFWs is a joint effort with the DOH, DILG, in coordination with the DOLE and DFA and the IATF-EID, as provided for in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act of 2020 or Republic Act 11469.

Costs of the accommodation may be shouldered by the OWWA, other national government agencies, the OFWs’ recruiting agencies, or the OFWs themselves, as may be applicable.

During their quarantine, OFWs are confined to their assigned single-occupancy, fully-furnished rooms, complete with sanitation and hygiene kits, as cleared by authorized DOH-BOQ personnel.

Last week, the DOT said at least 49 of the hotels with 3,343 rooms available are located outside Metro Manila, including those in the Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Central and Eastern Visayas, and Davao regions, where those OFWs may be billeted near their home destinations.

Nograles, meanwhile, called on the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur to coordinate with the Sabah National Security Council (SNSC) for the requested return of 38 stranded Malaysian nationals to Sandakan town.

“In the meantime, the DFA is directed to submit the information of the Malaysian nationals to the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA),” he said.

The DOT is in charge of assisting rescue missions (boat, land, and air transfers) to facilitate safe travels of foreign nationals to gateways, in coordination with their respective embassies and relevant agencies. (PNA)

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