Some 61 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are expected to arrive in Bohol on Friday, said Governor Arthur Yap who was again caught by surprise by the sudden development.
According to Yap, he was informed only at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday of the impending arrival of the OFWs.
Yap said that Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III admitted that the late disclosure was a violation of a protocol which mandates a 72-hour advanced coordination between local and national officials prior to the arrival of the balikbayans.
“I registered my disappointment on why my request for a one week advanced warning for any returning OFWs was ignored. He intimated that he was also very surprised by the developments of events,” he said.
Most of the returning OFWs at 58 have already been quarantined in Cebu and have tested negative for coronavirus disease (COVID) 19 in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests,” he added based on the assurances made by national authorities.
Three other Boholanos are among the 230 OFWs who are to be transported from Manila to Cebu. The trio will also then be ferried to Bohol today.
“OWWA [Overseas Workers Welfare Administration] Cebu also confirmed to the PEMA Secretariat that they will try to send home at least 58 returning OFWs who have been quarantined in Cebu and tested negative on a PCR Test,” said Yap. “So tomorrow, May 8, we are looking at about 61 returning OFWs.”
Meanwhile, Provincial Administrator Kathyrin Pioquinto has started to coordinate with various agencies in readying the quarantine facilities for the OFWs.
According to Yap, it was the Office of the President that ordered the continued transport of OFWs from Metro Manila to their home provinces.
It was the second time that national officials failed to give ample time for the provincial government to prepare for the arrival of OFWs. Last week, the Capitol was made aware that 65 OFWs were headed to Bohol just two days before their actual arrival.
Yap has also supposedly sent a letter to DILG Secretary Eduardo Año and Sec. Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the Philippines’ Declared National Policy Against COVID-19, appealing for the suspension of entry of OFWs into the province while results of the PCR tests on two OFWs in the province who were considered as “probable cases” were awaited.
The governor also asked for more stringent protocols in allowing the travel of OFWs including the requirement of a Department of Health certification proving that they have undergone a 14-day quarantine in their places of origin and have tested negative in PCR tests.