Philippines sends home 4,000 stranded OFWs


Posted at May 26 2020 07:32 AM | Updated as of May 26 2020 07:41 AM

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MANILA - A government plan to bring home 24,000 repatriated migrant workers to their home provinces met half of its daily target on the first day, the labor department said Tuesday.

Some 4,000 overseas Filipino workers — who were quarantined for at least 14 days and had tested negative for the novel coronavirus — went home to their provinces on Monday, said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.

The government aims to send home 8,000 OFWs daily from Monday to Wednesday, he earlier said.

"Medyo kinapos kami. Unang-una kinapos kami ng bus," Bello told DZMM. "Alam mo naman social distancing."

(We fell a bit short of our target. The buses were not enough. We had to follow social distancing.)

Physical distancing measures require the public to stay at least 1 meter apart to avoid virus transmission.

The 4,000 OFWs on Monday went home on board 21 bus trips and 18 chartered flights.

Authorities will double the buses on Tuesday, said Bello. They will also start using ships, said Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday gave agencies 1 week to bring home some 24,000 OFWs, following reports that some of them have been quarantined in Metro Manila for 2 months.

Some 300,000 OFWs are expected to return to the Philippines this year as lockdowns meant to curb the coronavirus pandemic left many businesses struggling to survive, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said.

Cash remittances from OFWS hit a record $30 billion (P1.5 trillion) in 2019, helping drive consumption and strengthening the peso against the dollar.