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OWWA SHOULD PROVIDE RETURNING OFWs WITH DECENT QUARANTINE FACILITIES – GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian is urging the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to provide returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) with decent accommodations to ensure their health and safety as they undergo mandatory quarantine for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the country.

Gatchalian said a video of the deplorable conditions of repatriated migrant workers who share a cramped room in an OWWA shelter house was revealed by a male OFW through a video shared over social media.

The male voice behind the video, who sounded disappointed, said they were taken to  a quarantine facility in Kuwait where proper physical distancing was observed. Their dire situation at the OWWA quarantine shelter where they were taken to after arriving in the Philippines, however showed total disregard for stringent quarantine measures. They were even asked to join other OFWs from Dubai and South Korea in the said quarantine area.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has issued a directive that all OFWs arriving in the Philippines are required to undergo a 14-day facility-based quarantine. They are also required to undergo rapid testing for the new coronavirus.

“There are many OFWs who have taken to social media their complaints.”

The veteran legislator said there are also many OFWs who took to social media to complain about the poor sanitation and concerns on health protocols in some makeshift quarantine sites being put up by the government.

If this will not be addressed soon, Gatchalian fears that the country might face a similar consequence similar to that of Singapore which is now being battered by a second wave of infections after its government overlooked the conditions in some congested areas where many migrant workers live.

“We are placing all OFWs arriving under quarantine in government-sponsored facilities in order to prevent the possibility of wider coronavirus infection in the country. But cramping all of them in a small room is a recipe for disaster. It’s like we are incubating time bombs with devastating consequences,” the senator said.

“OWWA can tap into the P19.4 billion trust fund of its members.”

He said that OWWA can tap into the P19.4 billion trust fund of its members to provide them with decent quarantine homes and other needs during their 14-day quarantine period.

Even if OWWA’s trust fund is not primarily intended for repatriation purposes, Gatchalian said the government agency should focus all its efforts and resources for the emergency repatriation of OFWs, especially during crucial times like these.

OWWA can also tap the help of the hotel sector in providing temporary quarantine areas, according to him.

“Kapag nagpatumpik-tumpik tayo at naging maluwag sa protocol, mababalewala ang mga pinaghihirapan natin. Kung hindi natin inaalagaan ang ating mga OFW alinsunod sa mga alituntunin para maiwasan ang pagkalat ng virus, tiyak babalik din sa gobyerno at sa ating lahat ang problema, kaya dapat siguraduhin natin na nasusunod ang lahat ng mga hakbang kontra COVID-19,” Gatchalian concluded.

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