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By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Friday, May 29, 2020
Repatriated OFWs coming back to Cebu will now be undergoing 5-day quarantine period instead of 7 as agreed by the Cebu Provincial Government and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). (Lito Tecson)

The quarantine period for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) who will arrive in Cebu is now reduced to five days following adjustments to procedures agreed by the Province of Cebu and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

In a multi-agency meeting called by the Provincial Government, city and town mayors of Cebu and OWWA agreed to reduce quarantine days to five following the latter's request.

On Wednesday night, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia signed Executive Order (EO) 17-C amending Section 6 (6.3) of EO 17 which reduces the quarantine period from 7 days to 5 days. 

To ensure order in the acceptance of the OFWs, the OWWA will provide the list of OFWs to Provincial Health Office (PHO) chief Dr. Christina Giango who will likewise coordinate with the municipal or city health officers of the receiving local government units (LGUs).

However, the LGUs may opt to pick up the OFW before the five-day quarantine period ends.

OWWA Central Visayas Director Mia Dolino requested from the mayors if it can reduce the number of days that OFWs are placed in quarantine as their resources is starting to get depleted. 

Dolino narrated the OWWA is spending for the transport and accommodation of OFWs who are quarantined in various hotels in Cebu City. 

A total of 1,571 OFWs are quarantined in various hotels in Cebu since the launch of the "Malasakit Voyage" in April 28.

Just this week, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 ordered a directive to ship out 24,000 OFWs to their home provinces.

The arrivals, however, caused criticisms from some local government units for lack of coordination from national agencies. 

A representative of Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Junard "Ahong" Chan said in the meeting that they were caught flat-footed when they were informed of the arrival of 103 OFWs barely two hours before their arrival and were told to pick them up from the airport.

The officer relayed to OWWA that Chan was hoping that they will be informed at least three days before the arrival so they can do social preparation and inform the barangays that will receive the OFWs. 

Dolino, for her part, explained that it was a national directive and they coordinated with the DILG for the dispatch of the information.

But she assured that they will address the setback and asked for a reconsideration of the period of quarantine saying this could help in the turn-over of OFWs to the LGUs.

Dolino said one of the considerations they had to factor in is the availability of hotel rooms and other available facilities in Cebu that could accommodate the influx of returning OFWs who will be quarantined.

"So we are looking if the EO can be amended from 7 days nga i-5 days na with the stipulation of the LCE (local chief executive) that the OFW can return," Dolino added.

Aside from the 45,000, another 45,000 OFWs are set to be repatriated from various countries around the globe. (Vanessa L. Almeda)