By Roy Mabasa
The Philippine government has successfully repatriated 370 Filipino crew members from three cruise ships docked in Italy as part of its effort to extricate stranded OFWs in various parts of the world due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Filipino repatriates arrived in Manila Saturday night via a special flight from Rome.
The latest group of Filipino repatriates is composed of 248 Filipinos from MV Costa Luminosa from Milan, and a combined number of 122 Filipinos from MV Grandiosa and MV Opera docked in the Italian capital.
The seamless mass repatriation was made possible in close coordination with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and their respective local manning agencies in the Philippines.
Even before they boarded the plane, all the 370 Filipinos underwent medical check-up and were found to be asymptomatic of the COVID-19 virus.
Similar to all other returning OFWs, the 370 crewmen will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day facility-based quarantine supervised by the Bureau of Quarantine.
Last week, a small batch composed of 13 Filipinos from Spain also returned to Manila under the government’s continuing repatriation scheme.
Once repatriated, all OFWs will be under the responsibility of DOLE-OWWA in coordination with DOH and BOQ to ensure that they have a quarantine area for two weeks.
“The DFA coordinates with the manning agencies, the crew and foreign authorities to quickly repatriate once there is a quarantine area identified and checked by the responsible agencies here. We expect several more such repatriations in the coming weeks,” it said.