MANILA- Repatriated overseas Filipino workers will only stay in Manila for a maximum of 5 days before they are transported to their home provinces, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Friday as the government aims to fast-track the arrival of its returning citizens.
Lorenzana, who chairs the National Task Force on COVID-19, said the government has enough testing facilities to accommodate returning OFWs.
"‘Pag dumating ‘yung OFW, maximum araw na manatili siya sa Manila ay 5 araw lang. It could be less, but the maximum is five days," he said in a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
"We have enough testing facilities now all over Metro Manila and kayang-kaya ho natin ‘yung darating ngayon," he added.
Lorenzana explained that the Department of Foreign Affairs handles the coordination on the repatriation of OFWs so that authorities here in the Philippines can already prepare for their transportation to their home provinces once they are cleared of COVID-19 protocols.
Under the prevailing system, all repatriated OFWs arrive in Metro Manila where they undergo the mandatory testing for coronavirus and a 14-day facility-based quarantine.
Once cleared, the government facilitates their transportation to their home provinces.
The government's handling of the repatriation of OFWs was previously criticized following reports that some repatriates were stuck in Metro Manila for a month due to pending coronavirus test results.
To fast-track the repatriation, the Philippines is reopening international airports outside Metro Manila to receive OFWs, Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President and COVID-19 policy deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said Thursday.
The move comes after the government reported that it raised its COVID-19 testing capacity to over 40,000 per day.
Some 16,000 overseas Filipino workers displaced by the coronavirus pandemic will come home this month, the Department of Labor and Employment said.
The pandemic has left some 341,161 OFWs out of work, the labor department said.