MANILA – Malacañang on Saturday fired back at Migrante International for saying that overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were getting garbage-like treatment upon return to the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, the migrant workers were instead being treated like VIPs.
“Inuwi po natin ang lahat ng manggagawa natin. Binigyan ng libreng PCR [polymerase chain reaction] testing. Binigyan ng libreng pamasahe sa eroplano, sa bus at sa barko,” he said in a Laging Handa press briefing.
(We brought them back home. We gave them free PCR testing. We gave them free fares on airplanes, bus and ships.)
“Hindi po ‘yan garbage-like treatment. VIP treatment po ‘yan,” he added.
(That’s not a garbage-like treatment. It’s VIP treatment.)
As of Saturday, some 22,426 OFWs have gone home to their respective hometowns following testing and quarantine upon repatriation, Roque said.
In a statement released Friday, the Filipino migrant workers’ group said OFWs were “dumped like garbage” in airports after being stuck in Metro Manila for several weeks.
“Famished and made to sit close to heaps of junk airport equipment, our kababayans whom the government repeatedly tag as ‘modern-day heroes’ are treated like outcasts as they haplessly await for their provincial flights,” Migrante International said.
“Migrante International calls on President Duterte to put a stop on this day-light robbery and focus on helping Filipino migrants at this period of crisis. OFWs are likewise appealing to OWWA to constantly provide their necessities like food, water, toiletries and comfortable waiting areas at the airport. Medical attention and flight priorities must be given to the elderly, pregnant women and physically challenged OFWs,” it added.