PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government agencies to bring some 24,000 repatriated overseas Filipino workers back to their home provinces by the end of the week.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte gave the order to officials from the Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, and Department of Health after OFWs were reported to have been stuck in Metro Manila’s modified enhanced community quarantine for a month due to delayed COVID-19 test results.
“Hindi katanggap-tanggap sa ating Presidente na matapos maglingkod sa ating bayan ang mga OFWs na napahiwalay sa kanilang mga pamilya, nalungkot at nahirapang magbayad eh ngayon lalo pang mahihirapan habang naghihintay ng kanilang results (It’s unacceptable to the president that our OFWs, after serving the country by being separated from their families, left alone and struggled to pay, are suffering more while waiting for their test results),” he said.
In a separate interview with DZMM, Roque stressed: “Sabi niya [Duterte] enough is enough — one week — otherwise, marami pong mananagot (He said enough is enough — they have one week — otherwise, many will be held accountable).”
The spokesman added that Duterte is allowing all officials in these government agencies to use government funds and all modes of transportation to bring home the OFWs to their respective hometowns.
“Sabi po ng Presidente kung hindi sapat ang mga pribadong bus, eroplano, at barko, pwede pong gamiting ang mga eroplano at barko ng hukbong sandatahan (The president said if private buses, airplanes, and ships are not enough, they could use the military’s airplanes and ships),” Roque said.
Duterte, in his public address late Monday night, said OFWs have the “constitutional right” to return home.
“You know, I’m ordering you [local government units] to accept them, open the gates of your territories and allow the people — and allow the Filipinos to travel wherever they want,” he said.
“Do not impede it. Do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally,” he added.