Recto on repatriated OFWs: Treat them as heroes not carriers of disease
MANILA, Philippines — Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should be seen as “remitters of money” and “not as bearers of a disease,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Tuesday as he urged the government to “scale up” quarantine facilities so that more Filipino migrant workers could return home after being rendered jobless amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, Recto said the OFWs should be treated “as returning heroes who have sacrificed so much for their country.”
“They deserve a red carpet welcome. Those who have brought progress to this country should not be shunned as carriers of the disease. To view them as such is fake news most foul,” Recto said.
Returning OFWs should be quarantined in comfortable lodgings and must be reunited with their loved ones without delay after undergoing a 14-day mandatory quarantine, he added.
“Hindi sila dapat maging stranded sa sariling bayan,” Recto said.
(They should not be left stranded in their own country).
“Makaraan ang mahabang taong sakripisyo, gusto nang umuwi ng mga stranded na OFWs sa mga bahay na kanilang pinundar, sa mga bayang tinulungan nilang lumago, sa mga anak na kanilang pinaaral,” he added.
(After long years of sacrifice, the stranded OFWs want to return to the homes they worked hard to build, to their hometowns, and to their children who they sent to school).
Aside from scaling up the quarantine facilities, Recto said the government should also look into opening more airport to accommodate more chartered flight carrying returning OFWs
“…Let us study the option of opening more airports to chartered flights from abroad, in cities where struggling hotels can earn money for hosting OFWs who have been tested as coronavirus-free,” he said.
The senator noted that OFW remittances amounted to P1.7 trillion in 2019, which Recto pointed out are bigger than gross sales posted by Filipino conglomerates.
“That’s P193 million every hour, P4.6 billion per day. That should be seen as the repatriation insurance they’ve been paying,” Recto said.
“Twenty-five percent of the remittances came from sea-based Filipinos, which entitles those working aboard cruise ships a seamless trip home,” Recto said.
Over 30,000 OFWs have so far been repatriated, and 515 of 27,000 tested for coronavirus were positive as of May 20, according to authorities.
Some 42,000 more Filipino migrant workers are expected to return next month due to job losses triggered by the health crisis.
The government has begun sending home nearly 24,000 OFWs, whose polymerase chain reaction (PCR) COVID-19 tests turned out negative, to their respective provinces.
This, after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered labor officials to send the thousands of OFWs home following complaints that they were made to stay in quarantine facilities well beyond the mandatory 14-day isolation period due to the delay in the release of their COVID-19 test results.
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