6,000 OFWs stranded in hotels due to COVID-19 test delays

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — Some 6,000 overseas Filipino workers remain stranded in Metro Manila and unable to return to their homes in the province due to COVID-19 test delays, the Labor Department said Wednesday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello revealed in a virtual press briefing that these OFWs were spread out in 120 hotels because results of their swab tests had not been released since the Philippine Red Cross stopped conducting tests until PhilHealth paid its over P1 billion debt to the organization.

Bello said his office had partnered with another group to temporarily conduct the testing, but admitted the Red Cross was preferable.

“In the meantime, dahil hindi nag se-service ang Red Cross, mayroon tayong ginagamit na grupo that was suggested by the Bureau of Quarantine. But we hope na mas mabuti ang Red Cross pa din,” he explained.

[Translation: In the meantime, we are using the services of another group, since the Red Cross is out, which was suggested by the Bureau of Quarantine. But we hope that the Red Cross would resume testing.]

Bello said that expenses for the stranded OFWs have doubled with their prolonged stay in hotels.

“Hopefully this week, mase-settle din ang problema. Mawawala na ang mga natengga na OFWs natin.”

[Translation: Hopefully, we can settle the problem this week so that our stranded OFWs can go home.]

President Rodrigo Duterte assured payment to the Philippine Red Cross on Monday soon.