By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said they are expecting the return of hundreds more distressed Filipino seafarers following the arrival this morning of 881 crew members of four coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)-stricken cruise ships from the United States.
It was learned that the two flights landed between 9-9:30 a.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) with the 881 Filipino sea-based workers onboard.
According to the DFA, the group of repatriates is composed of 445 seafarers from Norwegian Cruises Dawn and Encore and another 436 from Netherland-flagged M/V Magica and M/V Fabolosa cruise ships.
Arrangements are being made for the Filipino repatriates to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine in an undisclosed facility to be monitored by personnel from the Bureau of Quarantine.
On Tuesday night, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. was suggesting that President Duterte invoke his authority under the special powers granted by Congress to seize the operation of any hotel which would refuse to accommodate the repatriates.
“500 seafarers are being brought in two Ethiopian Air flights to Manila, arriving tomorrow and going to Quarantine-accredited hotels. One hotel, DOH says, has backed out. The President has the power to seize any hotel. That power must be invoked,” Locsin said in a tweet.