By Genalyn Kabiling
Overseas Filipino workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic are continuously given “VIP treatment” such as free hotel accommodations and transport to their hometowns as soon as they arrive in the country, Malacañang said Thursday.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the assurance after disputing reports that some stranded Filipino repatriates were forced to sleep under the bridge.
“VIP treatment talaga ang mga OFW. Wala pong natulog sa ilalim ng tulay na OFW, lahat po ng ating OFW naka-hotel. Binabayaran po ng gobyerno, kaya nga po VIP iyan at libre rin ang pauwi sa kanila (OFWs are given VIP treatment. No OFW is sleeping under the bridge. All OFWs are staying in hotels. The government pays for their lodging so they are treated as VIPs. Their return home is also free),” Roque said during a Palace press briefing.
“Iyong mga nasa ilalim ng tulay po, tama po ang sinabi ninyo, ito po iyong mga stranded na ating mga kababayan (Those found under the bridge are our stranded countrymen),” he clarified.
He said National Task Force on COVID-19 response and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) have already taken steps to assist the stranded persons in their trip back to their hometowns.
He said stranded individuals may be given temporary shelter at Villamor Air Base or other facilities while waiting for their flights or bus rides home. These persons will also undergo coronavirus testing before their return trips.
“Huwag po kayong mag-alala, hindi po tayo bulag sa paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan ay ayaw na ayaw po ni Presidente iyan kaya po aksyon kaagad (Do not worry. We are not blind to the suffering of our people. The President does not like that so there is immediate action),” he said.
Overseas Filipino workers are required to undergo coronavirus testing and two-week facility quarantine upon their return to the country as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus. The government however recently moved to hasten the testing process for OFWs and facilitate their swift return to their hometowns to curb any inconvenience.