Daily passenger cap, limited quarantine facilities causing delays in repatriation of stranded overseas Filipinos – DFA

Published August 9, 2021, 2:30 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is expected to bring home more than 7,000 stranded overseas Filipinos this month through a combination of chartered and Bayanihan flights.

Photos of stranded Filipinos preparing to board a repatriation flight from Dubai last week. (DFA)

This is despite the challenges that the Philippine government is facing in repatriating hundreds of other Filipinos still stranded in many parts of the world due to the daily passenger cap being implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force and the limitations in the number of quarantine facilities to accommodate arriving repatriates.

At the Laging Handa public briefing Monday, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sara Arriola said the IATF- recommended daily cap is only up to 2,000 passengers.

“This month of August alone we will be able to bring home 7,060 Filipinos who are stranded; 4,364 through the DFA chartered flights and 2,800 through Bayanihan flights,” the DFA official said.

To ensure an orderly repatriation process, Arriola said they have listed among their priorities the most vulnerable individuals such as those with medical cases, women in their first trimester of pregnancy, those with expired work contracts and visas, and those whose flights have been previously canceled due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In compliance with health and safety protocols, all arriving passengers will have to go through RT-PCR COVID-19 tests within 48 hours prior to their departure from their port of origin and be allowed to board only if tests yielded negative results. Upon arrival in the Philippines, the repatriates will undergo stringent quarantine in facilities provided by the government and will be tested again before the end of their quarantine.

According to Arriola, the DFA alone has repatriated a total of 408,911 OFWs since the outbreak started in February last year. Of that total, 105,607 are sea-based workers while 303,304 are land-based workers.