COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is following the national government’s directive to allow the entry of returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) sans the implied certificates of acceptance from their respective places of origin in the region.
Lawyer Naguib Sinarimbo, BARMM interior minister and concurrent spokesperson, said during the Radyo Bangsamoro interview on Saturday that the LSIs must be accommodated by their respective local government units (LGUs) within seven days, as per the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte last Wednesday.
LSIs are individuals who were stranded in the different areas in the Philippines since the lockdown due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
“The rule under the National IATF guidelines is to require them to have medical certification provided by the LGU where they were stranded for them to return to their respective provinces. There’s no need for a certificate of acceptance from the LGU receiving them,” Sinarimbo said.
Sinarimbo mentioned that the certificate of acceptance will only result in the clogging of more stranded individuals at borders who would not be allowed entry, which is opposite to the President’s directive.
He also noted that medical certification is not a result of the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test used for tracing Covid-19 since only the patients who possess the common symptoms of the virus are allowed to be tested for RT-PCR.
“The requirement essentially is the medical certification. We, however, advise the LGUs to receive the person but do not permit them to roam around once they arrive,” he said.
Sinarimbo further advised caution to the LSIs who are going home to have the urgency to protect their families, the community, and to observe quarantine especially to those coming from high-risk identified areas in the country.
“Treat yourself as a potential [risk] and avoid going out,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ROFs have more stringent requirements to follow.
Their entry point is in Metro Manila where they will automatically get tested via RT-PCR, before being allowed to go home to their respective provinces.
On Thursday, a technical group comprising the region’s Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior and Local Government, the Ministry of Labor and Employment, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have set up help desks at seaports and airports to assist the LSIs and ROFs.
“In the case of the ROFs, we want to ensure they are monitored properly and not make unnecessary contact from outside while coordinating with the LGUs that will receive them,” Sinarimbo said.
Furthermore, the BARMM, through OWWA, has already set up and covered the expenses for the isolation centers and hotel accommodations of the OFWs who will be quarantined.
“They were sent home so that means money is scarce. OWWA has a welfare fund where a portion of their [OFWs] earning goes to the fund handled by the (OWWA) office. The expectation is to use the money to pay for the expenses,” Sinarimbo said. (PNA)