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No compromise on OFW quarantine rules

MJ Blancaflor



President Rodrigo Duterte said that he is not prepared to allow less stringent quarantine and testing protocols for arriving overseas Filipino workers (OFW) that could compromise the health of the people.

In a hastily-called meeting of the pandemic task force, Duterte rejected the proposal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to ease the existing protocols that should be followed by returning overseas Filipinos upon their arrival.

“I am not ready for a compromise especially now. Maybe we could for other diseases such as rabies, but for this, no,” Duterte said in a mix of English and vernacular. “As you have said, it is transmitted here and there and then you have the exponential problem how to take care of the Philippines.”

Under the rules, returning Filipinos should stay in a facility-based quarantine upon their arrival and undergo swab tests on the fifth day and if their results are negative, they could complete the remaining nine days of the mandatory 14-day quarantine in their respective local government units.

Duterte said that while he understands that the medical experts advising the pandemic task force “would go for the strict measures,” he was not ready to “move an inch backward.”

“They were insisting strictest measures to protect our borders,” the President said.

During the meeting, Bello lamented that the current quarantine protocol of seven- to nine-day stay in a quarantine hotel has diminished their funds as the government shoulders the costs.

He added that he has been receiving hundreds of complaints daily about the slow release of swab test results of OFW.

“We are appealing if we can go back to the original protocol that upon the arrival of OFW, they will undergo swab tests, quarantine for five days, and if their tests yield negative results, then they can be transported to their destination,” Bello said.