PH exempts non-gov't repatriation efforts from travel ban on India, six other countries

Published June 4, 2021, 1:23 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Filipino repatriates will be exempted from the country’s entry restrictions imposed on India and six other countries even if such repatriation program is not organized by the national government.

(File photo/Department of Foreign Affairs)

In its latest resolution, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has required all repatriates to present negative test results for coronavirus prior to their voyage as well as undergo a 14-day facility quarantine upon arrival in the country.

“Apart from the repatriation programs of the Philippine government, the IATF exempted non-Philippine government repatriation efforts to the entry restrictions imposed on travelers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement Friday, June 4.

The government has recently decided to prohibit the entry of travelers coming from the seven countries until June 15 as a precaution against the spread of the deadly coronavirus variant first detected in India. An exception however has been given if passengers are part of the government’s repatriation efforts.

READ: PH extends travel ban on India, 6 other countries until mid-June

In case of a government-led repatriation, Roque said the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration shall conduct prior coordination with each other about the repatriation effort. It will also coordinate with Department of Health-Bureau of Quarantine (DOH-BOQ), Department of Transportation, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines, and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 Task Group for the management of Returning Overseas Filipinos at least 48 hours prior to the departure from the country of origin.

For non-Philippine government repatriation, Roque said all Filipino repatriates from the countries with travel restrictions must present a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result taken within 48 hours prior to boarding the aircraft or vessel.

The airline or the shipping line must check the compliance with such testing requirement. A copy of the negative RT-PCR test result of the repatriate must also be submitted to the BOQ upon arrival in the port of entry in the Philippines.

“Moreover, prior approval from the BOQ is needed for the entry of flight or vessel carrying Filipino repatriates prior to its movement from point of origin,” Roque said.

Roque said the concerned local manning agency, the Philippine recruitment agency or the sponsoring Philippine government agency shall submit an exemption request to the DOH-BOQ. Such request on the repatriation must still get the approval from the IATF.

Upon arrival in the country, Roque said all repatriates from countries with travel restrictions are required to undergo a strict 14-day facility-based quarantine.

In a televised address last week, President Duterte assured overseas Filipino workers displaced by the pandemic will be repatriated. He affirmed his love and concern for distressed OFWs, saying the government would “do everything to expedite” their return to the Philippines.

“Mahal ko kayo. Kung hindi ka mahal sa kanila (I love you all. If you are not loved by there), then I love you all and come back to our country and mag-ano tayo kung anong magawa natin para sa inyo (let’s see what we can do for you),” he said.

READ: Duterte to OFWs: ‘Come home, let’s see what we can do for you’

An additional allocation of P5 billion for the repatriation of OFWs has also been approved by the President. The funds will be used to pay for the facilities used to quarantine OFWs upon arrival in the country.

READ: Duterte approves P5-B additional funds for OFW quarantine