Duterte reiterates order for LGUs to welcome returning OFWs

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 26) – President Rodrigo Duterte reminded local government units to welcome returning overseas Filipino workers amid the COVID-19 crisis in the country.

The appeal of the President came a day after he ordered yesterday to hasten the release of COVID-19 test results of over 24,000 stranded OFWs languishing in quarantine facilities.

READ: Duterte gives ultimatum to gov't agencies to send home returning OFWs awaiting COVID-19 test results

Duterte also cited a report from the Department of Labor and Employment that 302,062 stranded OFWs are expected to arrive in different parts of the country when the airports open.

“Hindi naman sila lahat nagkasakit (Not all of the OFWs have the virus). It is very cruel actually to deny them to go home,” said Duterte in his weekly public address aired Monday night.

National Task Force on COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez reported last week that a total of 465 returning OFWs have tested positive for COVID-19.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año assured in their meeting that all 24,000 OFWs who are returning home to their provinces have tested negative for the virus.

Duterte emphasized that only the national government can impose travel restrictions because they are the ones who hold the constitutional power of declaring a national emergency.

“Nobody but nobody can really stifle the right of [OFWs] whether he is travelling, working outside and coming in, going home,” he noted.

The President said LGUs must ask permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on imposing measures in their locality.

“It is the constitutional right of people to travel and go home. Do not impede it. Do not obstruct the movement of people because you run the risk of getting sued criminally,” said Duterte.

Duterte added he ordered the use of all the government-owned air, water, and land modes of transportation to bring home the OFWs to their respective hometowns.

Around 2,000 OFWs packed the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Parañaque Integrated terminal Exchange yesterday as the national government started to expedite their return to their respective provinces.