Mayor seeks clarification on OFWs

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Anticipating the resumption of trips home from Manila to Bacolod of overseas Filipino workers next week, Mayor Evelio Leonardia has sought clarification again with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on the updated guidelines for handling them.

In his August 19 letter to OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, which Leonardia co-signed with Councilor Israel Salanga, chair of the Action Team on Returning OFWs, the mayor asked Cacdac on the specific dates of the OFWs’ arrival next week, both by boat trips and airline flights, a press release from the city said yesterday.

The mayor also asked Cacdac how many OFWs are expected to arrive in Bacolod on a daily basis once the repatriation resumes, and whether the repatriation process will be carried out by authorities in Manila on a first-come, first-served basis, whether using sea or air transport.

“For those still seeking repatriation, how do OFWs apply or enroll in this process, and for those already inside the airports in Manila, what advice do we give them?” the mayor asked.

“As for the RT-PCR results, will airports and seaports in Manila still require a negative test result from OFWs before they board the plane or the ship? If yes, how many days from its release date can a negative swab result still be allowed by Manila airports and seaports as valid for boarding purposes?” the mayor added.

Leonardia said the answers to these questions will be important in the planning and preparation of the Bacolod LGU in receiving Bacolodnon OFWs once the repatriation resumes, the press release said.

On August 3, Leonardia, had appealed to OWWA to provide a moratorium of at least two weeks in between the return of OFWs to Bacolod so as not to expose the safety of the whole city to “incalculable jeopardy”.

“The uncontrolled number and the indiscriminate frequency of OFWs returning to our City will possibly exceed the available hotel facilities without warning and injudiciously exhaust our local workers. Should this happen, the safety of the whole City will be exposed to incalculable jeopardy,” the mayor stressed.

Last month, Leonardia also wrote to Health Secretary Francisco Duque, chair of the National IATF, and his co-chair, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei Nograles, appealing for stricter travel protocols when commercial flights and sea travel resume.

He had requested the national task force to “issue guidelines that limit flights and ferry trips (to Bacolod) to a combined total of 600 passengers per week,” the press release added.*

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