MANILA - Filipinos repatriated back to the country undergo quarantine and must not be discriminated against, a Foreign Affairs official said Monday.
“Hindi po dapat kayo mag-alala. At ang ating mga OFWs po, hindi po sila dapat pandirihan o katakutan dahil kapag pinayagan na po sila bumalik sa kanilang mga pamilya, ibig sabihin po noon, wala po silang COVID-19. So negative po sila sa COVID-19,” Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said.
In a briefing via Facebook live, Arriola said those with symptoms are not allowed to board the plane from the country of their origin, and that repatriates who have been allowed to return to their homes after the mandatory quarantine period are negative of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
As of Monday, a total of 6,656 Filipinos have been repatriated since February 25. Of this number, 4,687 are seafarers and passengers onboard 30 cruise ships, while 1,969 are land-based overseas Filipinos.
Arriola said about 600 more sea-based workers are expected to arrive.
Three hundred Filipino seafarers were repatriated from the USA on Monday. They were from 5 Carnival cruise ships: Dream, Fantasy, Glory, Panorama, and Vista.
“The DFA and its partner agencies coordinated closely to ensure their safe arrival,” the DFA said in a tweet.
Arriola thanked the embassies and consulates abroad, the DOH, Bureau of Quarantine, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, Department of Tourism, Department of Transportation, Manila International Airport Authority, Bases Conversion and Development Authority, the shipowners, and manning agencies for making the repatriation possible.
Overseas Filipinos needing assistance may contact the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrants Workers Affairs through the following hotline numbers: +632-8834-4996 (Monday-Friday, 8am-2pm); +639674421825 and +639083442070.
Meanwhile, repatriation efforts from Lebanon continue amid a lockdown there. Arriola said repatriation will be done once Lebanon allows a special flight.
Arriola thanked the Kuwait government for its amnesty program and urged undocumented or irregular workers to avail of the program. She said the Kuwaiti government itself is shouldering the fare to return home.
The third batch of Filipino Kuwait amnesty grantees arrived in Manila on April 5. More than 900 amnesty grantees from Kuwait have arrived in the Philippines since April 1, according to the DFA.
“Sa mga nais i-take advantage ang amnesty program, lumapit lang po kayo sa Embahada upang kayo ay matulungan,” Arriola said.
Bahrain also waived the payment of fee for three months for flexi-visa holders or applicants.
Meanwhile, Arriola clarified the $200 assistance for OFWs whose work were affected by COVID-19 will come from the DOLE through the POLA and OWWA offices.
She urged workers to be patient, assuring them that the assistance would come. She advised OFWs in immediate need to reach out to Philippine embassies.
Filipinos stranded in Cambodia, Thailand and other places may also reach the Philippine Embassies for assistance.