MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) advised local government units to let returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) undergo a home quarantine instead of isolating them from their residences.
“Pinakamaganda nga diyan home quarantine na lang para kasama na nila (pamilya nila), puwede naman ‘yung home quarantine [Home quarantine is better for them to see their families. Home quarantine is allowed],” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a radio interview on Wednesday.
Año said that returning OFWs are already negative for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) based on test results they obtained after undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
“Allowed naman yung LGU na mag-impose ng additional quarantine [LGUs are allowed to impose additional quarantine],” Año added.
Normally, Año said, the areas with zero Covid-19 cases could impose a strict quarantine for returning OFWs.
He said LGUs implementing stringent measures could not be blamed as they are only protecting the public health.
Año, however, said this does not mean that LGUs can deny entry to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have undergone quarantine.
Meanwhile, the Department of Justice said local officials who impede the return of repatriated OFWs back into their hometowns may face prosecution.
In a message to reporters, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said President Rodrigo Duterte has already given instructions to all LGUs to accept the returning 24,000 OFWs to their hometowns.
“If LGU officials continue to defy this directive, they may be held administratively and criminally liable for violations of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (Republic Act 11469),” Guevarra said.
The law authorizes the President to exercise powers necessary to carry out urgent measures to meet the national emergency related to Covid-19.
He added that violations under the law enacted last March are prioritized by the prosecutors.
“I have already given instructions to the National Prosecution Service to give priority to the investigation of any and all cases related to the implementation of the Bayanihan Act and the various measures taken by the government pursuant thereto,” he said. (with reports from Benjamin Pulta/PNA)