PH Red Cross renews call to reconsider 14-day quarantine period for returning OFWs, overseas Filipinos

Published June 22, 2021, 5:33 PM

by Merlina Hernando-Malipot

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Tuesday. June 22, reiterated its recommendation to conduct swab testing five or seven days upon arrival for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and other returning Filipinos.

(Philippine Red Cross / MANILA BULLETIN)

PRC Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Senator Richard J. Gordon restated his proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) that all incoming OFWs and returning Philippine residents – who have been fully vaccinated abroad or in the Philippines – be “sent directly for home quarantine upon their arrival and then be tested” for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) later on.

“We want our fellowmen who are coming home to the Philippines to be with their families as soon as they arrive, and we want to lessen the financial and emotional expense that they are dealing with during these difficult times,” said Gordon.

Gordon officially sent the recommendation to IATF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito G. Galvez Jr. on June 14 and stressed that the required 14-day quarantine period for returning Filipinos “will cause a drain on their resources and take away from the time they are planning to spend with their families from whom they have already been separated for years.”

Citing the case of one of his former staff – a land based OFW – who recently arrived from Spain, Gordon said that upon arrival in Manila, she was checked-in at a hotel and was swabbed on the 7th day.

However, she received the result of her Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test on the ninth day of her quarantine and checked out only on the 10 day.

“It took 10 days for her to be able to go home to her family, 10 days were wasted,” Gordon said, noting that the OFW was “fortunate” that the government paid for her hotel accommodation and food. However, he said that there are those who need to pay for everything.

During the deliberation on the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program on June 15, Gordon also urged the IATF to allow the local government units to implement their own policies for returning overseas Filipinos, specifically OFWs, provided that local officials will take full responsibility in ensuring their people’s safety by instigating strict health protocols.

“Our Local Government Code grants local governments autonomy and may therefore, enact and enforce local laws in their jurisdictions in cases of epidemics, pestilence and other widespread health dangers,” he added.