Sat. Apr 17th, 2021

MANILA – A number of Filipino seafarers stranded in different parts of the country due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic are now on their way home after the first two batches were assisted by the government through the “Balik-Probinsya” initiative.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) said the first batch of seafarers, which shipped out from Pier 4 at North Harbor, Manila on Monday, arrived at the Dumaguete Port on Tuesday afternoon and unloaded 23 stranded seafarers.

“The said seafarers, who disembarked from the vessel, are all residents of Dumaguete and were escorted by the concerned agencies to the port terminal to fill up forms, and thereafter, boarded a chartered bus to the designated hotel for testing,” MARINA said.

The same ship, operated by 2GO and dubbed St. Michael the Archangel, earlier brought home more seafarers at Pier 5 at the Cebu Port who were bound for Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City, Mandaue City, and other parts of the provinces of Cebu and Bohol.

After a mandatory RT-PCR test for Covid-19, the seafarers were transferred into a bus booked by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for transport to various hotels for their required 14-day quarantine.

After leaving the Cebu Port, the ship transferred 46 seafarers to Lite Ferry 1 bound for Tagbilaran City, Bohol before arriving at the Dumaguete Port.

The first batch, onboard St. Michael the Archangel, was composed of 305 seafarers bound for Bohol, Cebu, Dumaguete, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Negros Oriental, Ozamiz, Zamboanga City, and Zamboanga del Sur, MARINA said.

The second batch, it said, was made up of 281 seafarers going to Aklan, Antique, Bacolod, Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, Camiguin, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental, and Negros Oriental and left Manila aboard 2GO vessel St. Leo the Great on Monday afternoon.

The Balik-Probinsya initiative was organized by the Malasakit Help Desk for Filipino Seafarers composed of the Department of Transportation, MARINA, the Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Ports Authority, OWWA, Bureau of Quarantine, local government units, and the seafarers’ local manning agencies.

“The Balik-Probinsya is in line with the whole-of-government approach, ensuring the safety and well-being of both land-based and sea-based OFWs,” MARINA said. (PNA)

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