By Leslie Ann Aquino
Please accept them home, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac appealed to local government units (LGUs) on the heels of President Duterte’s directives for the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the agency to bring home all the 24,000 quarantined overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Metro Manila within the week.
“Dear LGUs: After [two-and-a-half] months of ECQ, we should have already learned that family reunification rises above anything,” Cacdac said via his Twitter account Tuesday, May 26.
“Our returning OFWs are COVID-19-free with Department of Health (DOH) certifications to that effect. Please accept them home,” he added.
Cacdac also revealed that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has already ordered the resumption of OWWA’s “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Livelihood Program.”
“With the return of our dear OFWs to their home regions/provinces, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III has directed the resumption of the OWWA ‘Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay Livelihood Program’ for returning distressed OFWs-OWWA members,” he said.
The “Balik Pinas, Balik Hanapbuhay” re-integration program is a package of livelihood support/assistance intended to provide immediate relief to returning member-OFWs amounting to a maximum of P20,000 as start-up or additional capital for their livelihood project.
DOLE had earlier announced that close to 24,000 OFWs under mandatory quarantine and whose swab or RCT-PCR tests are negative will be sent home beginning May 25.
According to DOLE, a composite team of Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and OWWA will arrange in the next three days for trips for 8,000 OFWs a day via the Parañaque Integrated Terminal Exchange (PITX) and NAIA.
“This is part of President Duterte’s commitment for the safe return of OFWs to their families,” said DOLE.
“The OFWs only need to present their quarantine passes from the Bureau of Quarantine or from the PCG’s negative list from COVID-19 to qualify in the return program,” added the Labor department.
The three-day OFW Return Program is provided by President Duterte to ensure the safe return of those repatriated OFWs who have been under mandatory quarantine to their families and loved ones amid ongoing pandemic.