REPATRIATED OFWS. Some of the 51 overseas Filipino workers ride a bus from their temporary shelter in Cebu to the port area to board a boat going to Tagbilaran City, Bohol. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA)-Central Visayas Regional Director Mae Codilla on Tuesday (June 9, 2020) said her office has facilitated the travel of about 2,870 OFWs back to their respective provinces in Regions 7 and 8. (Photo courtesy of OWWA-7)

CEBU CITY – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in Central Visayas has provided assistance to at least 2,870 repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in traveling from Manila back to their home provinces in Regions 7 and 8.

Mae Codilla, regional director of OWWA-7, said 934 land-based and 1,936 sea-based OFWs were transported to holding facilities from the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) or domestic seaport here before they were picked up by their respective local government units (LGU).

“LGUs in Cebu province are given five days to pick up the OFWs from their holding areas. LGUs in tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu are only given three days to pick up,” Codilla said during the virtual press conference of the Regional Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (RIATF).

Codilla bared that Cebu has become a transit point for OFWs who are going back home to neighboring provinces like Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, and other areas in Region 8.

She said the OFWs took their flights via MCIA while OWWA-7 “provided transportation assistance for their travel back home to their home provinces”.

She said her office was able to provide food and accommodation for temporary shelter to the OFWs.

Codilla also said there were about 833 outbound OFWs who got stranded when the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) crisis started last March.

“They already arrived but caught in lockdown or quarantine. They were not able to come home because flights and boat trips were canceled,” she said.

Of the 833 outbound OFWs, 536 of them were already sent back home while 297 remain stranded but they continue to receive assistance from the OWWA-7.

The OFWs were subjected to mandatory swab test before processing their travel authority and other documents needed for their travel back to Central Visayas.

“Only those tested negative can get help for processing of their travel authority,” Codilla said.

Meanwhile, OWWA-7 was able to facilitate the release of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)’s Abot Kamay Ang Pagtulong (AKAP) cash assistance for the land-based and sea-based OFWs who were stranded due to the community quarantine.

About PHP36.5 million was already released for the DOLE AKAP program in Central Visayas, Codilla said, adding that OWWA-7 was able to process a total of 3,652 applications as of Tuesday for the PHP10,000 cash aid to each OFW affected by the Covid-19 crisis. (PNA)