By Chito Chavez
With some overseas Filipino workers (OFW) being barred from entering communities where their designated quarantine facilities are located, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday ordered its regional offices to establish OFW desks in their respective areas.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año said the move will facilitate the return of OFWs affected by the global coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis as they are required to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon their return to the country.
“We have been receiving reports that some OFWs are being barred from entering their communities or otherwise prevented to go to their designated health facilities,’’
The OFW desks in the regions, provinces, highly urbanized cities and the independent component cities will be manned by their respective desk officers.
“Miscommunication and misinformation should both be out of the question,’’ he added.
Año stressed the necessity to have these OFW desks in the regional offices and to be supervised by a desk officer to help the OFW go back to their families after their 14-day quarantine period without all the hassles.
In DILG Memorandum Circular No. 2020-075, Año directed all regional directors and the BARMM Minister of Local Government to designate the Local Government Operations Officer (LGOO) of DILG City and Municipal Field Offices to be the DILG OFW Desk Officer of the concerned component cities and municipalities.
He explained the main task of the designated DILG OFW Desk Officer is to immediately coordinate with the local chief executive (LCE) concerned and provide the relevant information about the arriving OFWs.
They must ensure that local government units (LGUs), including the BARMM, provide all the necessary assistance to the OFWs.
The OFW Desk Officer shall also monitor the health status of all Filipino repatriates within their respective jurisdictions through the city or municipal health workers, barangay health workers, or members of the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).
Año said that the creation of the DILG OFW Desks is in line with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID)’s Resolution No. 14 that enjoins the accommodation of distressed OFWs.
With many LGUs now under the general community quarantine (GCQ) for being low-risk areas, Año addressed the likelihood that many OFWs will want to return to their provinces.
When asked during the 12th Listong Ugnayan Online Forum of the Local Government Academy on whether OFWs can proceed directly to their home province to begin the mandatory 14-day quarantine, Año maintained that repatriates coming home must undergo the isolation process in Metro Manila first.
The DILG Secretary recently said that at least 8,000 OFWs have returned to the country who were all subjected to the mandatory 14-day quarantine. (Chito A. Chavez)#