By Genalyn Kabiling
A government task force has been formed to facilitate the smooth return of around 5,300 Filipinos from Sabah.
According to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque, the new interagency group will be assigned for the “handling and management” of Filipinos in Sandakan, Sabah, starting June 30.
The new task force includes the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and the Bureau of Quarantine. Under the government’s plan, Roque said a minimum 400 persons will be brought home per sortie with 15-day interval.
“Zamboanga City will be the processing area and we thank Mayor Beng Climaco for this. This will start on June 30,” he said during a Palace press briefing.
The government has recently scaled up border and quarantine protocols to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in the country.
Returning Filipinos are required to undergo coronavirus testing and a two-week quarantine to track, isolate and treat those infected with the illness.
Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez had earlier announced the government’s plans to bring home thousands of Filipinos from Malaysia by the last week of June.
Galvez, also chief implementer of the government’s action plan against the coronavirus, said one-stop shop in Zamboanga City had to be established to process the returning Filipinos.
Meantime, Roque said around 62,022 overseas Filipinos have returned home from May 3 to June 22. Of this number, he said 57,532 Filipinos arrived in Manila, 3,319 in Clark, Pampanga, and 1,171 Mactan, Cebu.