The government’s Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases must update its quarantine policies on returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) so they can spend more time with their families, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Sunday, June 20.
Speaking on her weekly radio show, she noted that many OFWs only have limited vacation time, so spending a week in quarantine shortens the time they can spend with their families.
“Ang tagal niyang pinag-uusapan parang hanggang ngayon, wala pa ring resolution kasi iyon nga wala pang nilalabas. Until now, seven days ka pa din sa hotel mag-i-istay (We’ve been talking about this for a long time but until now, there is still no resolution because they have not released. Until now, you need to stay in a hotel for seven days),” Robredo said.
“Sana lumabas na kaagad (I hope they release it soon) at least for those na (who are) fully vaccinated,” the lady official added.
Some OFWs have received full vaccinations from their host countries but when they arrive in the Philippines, they have to stay for seven days in government-accredited hotels. After testing negative from an RT-PCR test, they will be allowed to continue the next three days of their quarantine in the local government unit (LGU) where they will stay.
Groups of OFWs have already called out the government because of the expenses they incur while in quarantine.
The European Union (EU), Robredo cited, already said that fully vaccinated individuals no longer have to quarantine when they arrive in their destination countries.
However, EU applies this policy for those who have been inoculated with these four Western-made vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday said that the government will give OFWs the vaccine brand that their country of destination requires despite the limited number of Western-made jabs the Philippines has in its supply. This developed after several countries came up with a list of acceptable vaccine brands.
Last month, Robredo called on the World Health Organization (WHO) to “step in” to resolve the issues of vaccine brand discrimination. About 400 OFWs were delayed from returning to their work in Saudi Arabia in May because the Kingdom only recognizes Western-made vaccines.
The Philippines procured mostly Sinovac doses, so far receiving only Western-made brands such as Pfizer and Astrazeneca as donations from global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX.
The vice president said she also hoped that more vaccine supply will arrive to hasten the government’s vaccination program and put an end to the pandemic.
“Sana mapabilis-bilis ang supply (Hopefully, the arrival of the supply can speed up),” Robredo said, adding that this is the only way to end the surge of COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country.