HOME AT LAST. The government facilitates the repatriation of 301 overseas Filipino workers who arrived from the Gulf states on Friday (June 25, 2021). Each repatriate received PHP10,000 cash. (Photo courtesy of PCOO)

MANILA – Senator Richard Gordon restated his proposal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) that all returning residents and overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have been fully vaccinated abroad or in the Philippines be sent directly for home quarantine upon their arrival.

They will then be tested for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on the fifth or seventh day.

Gordon officially submitted his recommendation to IATF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on June 14 and stressed that the required 14-day quarantine period for returning Filipinos “will cause a drain on their resources and take away from the time they are planning to spend with their families from whom they have already been separated for years”.

“We want our fellowmen who are coming home to the Philippines to be with their families as soon as they arrive, and we want to lessen the financial and emotional expense that they are dealing with during these difficult times,” he said in a news release.

Gordon cited one of his former staff, a land-based OFW, who recently arrived from Spain.

Upon arrival in Manila, she was checked-in at a Pasay City hotel and was swabbed on the seventh day.

However, she received the result of her Covid-19 test on the ninth day of her quarantine and checked out on the 10th day.

“It took 10 days for her to be able to go home to her family. Ten days were wasted. She is fortunate that the government paid for her hotel accommodation and food, but for those who are not OFW or OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) members, they need to pay for everything. Ang laking pera ng nagagastos nila bago pa makauwi sa kanilang pamilya at malaking gastos din para sa gobyerno (They spent a lot before going home and the government had to spend, too),” Gordon said.

During the deliberation on the National Covid-19 Vaccination Program on June 15, Gordon also urged the IATF to allow local government units to implement their own policies for returning overseas Filipinos, specifically OFWs, provided that local officials will take full responsibility in ensuring their people’s safety by instigating strict health protocols.

“I always say, closer is better. In Florida in the United States, a federal judge granted the state’s request to block the CDC’s (Centers for Disease Control) rules on cruise ships after it paralyzed the cruise industry and caused a major loss in Florida’s economy. It is a major victory for the state as their livelihood depends on cruise industry. I hope we can do that in our country and start the recovery of our economy,” he said.

“Our Local Government Code says that local governments have local autonomy and may therefore, enforce laws in their jurisdictions in cases of epidemics, pestilence, and other widespread health dangers,” he added. (PR)