MANILA – “Filthy and unhygienic” conditions at a quarantine hotel in Quezon City greeted overseas Filipino workers who recently returned to the country, one of the OFWs told ABS-CBN News.
The OFW, who works for a cruise ship, said they arrived Saturday afternoon at a hotel in Novaliches, where they will be staying for the next 2 weeks following the Department of Health's protocol for returning OFWs.
While the OFW appreciated the presence of DOH workers who checked their body temperature and assessed their medical status, the OFW expressed alarm at the poor sanitary conditions at the hotel.
In photos provided to ABS-CBN News, some of the OFWs’ luggage can be seen placed on a wet parking area while a dirty rug could be seen outside a hotel room.
Inside the room, there was a dead cockroach with its wings scattered on the floor.
The bedsheet and pillowcases, the OFW said, did not appear to have been properly washed.
In the restroom, there were stains on the water basin and the tiles of the shower area while light brown water flowed from the faucet and from the water tank of the toilet bowl itself.
The OFW said it took hours before the water cleared and made it possible to take a shower.
“Lahat po kami disappointed po sa mga nakita namin kasi sobrang pagod na po talaga kami. Ang dami naming pinagdaanan,” the OFW said, adding that they just came from a 14-hour flight from London.
(We were all disappointed at what we saw because were were really exhausted. We've gone through a lot.)
“Ano po kami dun sa barko, COVID-free po kami. Healthy po kaming uuwi dito ng Pilipinas... parang feeling namin mas magkakasakit pa kami dahil sa kina…kakahinatnan namin dito… Parang dito pa kami magkakasakit…pati sa stress,” the OFW added.
(We were COVID-free in the cruise ship. We arrived in the Philippines healthy but we feel we might get sick because of our situation here in the hotel and out of stress.)
The OFW also provided photos of garbage left on top of window-type airconditioning units.
“Nagtatrabaho po kami sa cruise ship so alam po namin 'yung standard ng kung ano ba ‘yung paglilinis. Ginagawa din po namin 'yung kung ano man po 'yung nandito sa hotel, which is hindi naman po talaga na-meet 'yung standard ng kalinisan,” the OFW said.
(We work for a cruise ship so we know the standard on how to clean rooms. We also do the same cleaning as in hotels but in this case, they failed to meet the standard.)
The OFW, who requested anonymity, said they even had to teach the hotel room cleaners how to clean the room and provided gloves to a cleaner who was not wearing one while scrubbing the toilet bowl.
ABS-CBN News tried to reach out to the hotel but the staff referred our query to the Department of Health (DOH).
The OFW said they were also given a run-around as to who to approach regarding their concerns.
“Sabi po ng mga taga-DOH dito, ‘yung mga nag-che-check araw-araw ng temperature namin, manning agency daw po 'yung pumili nitong hotel namin. Ang sabi naman po ng manning agency, approved daw ng DOH/BOQ itong hotel,” the OFW said.
(Those from the DOH, the ones who check our body temperatures daily, said the manning agency chose the hotel. But the manning agency said the DOH and Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) approved the hotel’s inclusion as quarantine facility.)
“Paano naging approved kung ganun kadumi? Paano in-approve ng DOH? Chineck ba nila? Sana man lang, bago kami nakarating dito, talagang chineck na, malinis po 'yung kinalalagyan nung area,” the OFW added.
(How was this approved if the hotel is this filthy? How did DOH approve it? Did they check? They should have inspected it before we got here to make sure it’s clean.)
Under the checklist released by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration for local manning agencies, all quarantine facilities and hotels must be cleared by the DOH through the BOQ.
The manning agency, the DOH and the BOQ have yet to respond to our request for comment. We are withholding the names of the hotel and the manning agency until they are able to comment on the issue.
NO MEDIA INTERVIEWS/NO POSTING ON SOCIAL MEDIA
What alarmed the OFW even more was that they are not allowed to post anything on social media nor grant media interviews, based on a copy of the 14-Day Quarantine House Rules bearing the logo and letterhead of the DOH and BOQ.
“Media interview and posting in Social Media is not allowed. Electronic gadgets and cellphones of those who violate this will be confiscated and will be returned after the quarantine period,” the document said.
“Sa akin sana ok lang kung maganda 'yung kalagayan namin dito. Pero kung hindi naman po maganda kalagayan bakit hindi namin kailangan i-expose?... Kahit daw po sa mga kamag-anak namin 'wag sabihin. Paano naman po 'yun di ba? Paano 'yung mga nag-aalala para sa amin? Siyempre nagtatanong din sila kung ano ba 'yung kinalagyan namin,” the OFW said.
(It would have been okay with me if our situation here were good. But if it’s not good, why can’t we expose it? They won’t even allow us to talk to our relatives about it. Why is that? What about those who care for us? Of course they would want to know how we are.)
The OFW appealed to the government to look into their situation.
“Gusto lang po namin na sana maayos po 'yung kalagayan namin dito. Kahit hindi po kami ilagay sa magarang hotel, basta alam po naming malinis 'yung kalagayan namin,” the OFW added.
(We just want our situation to improve. We don’t have to be quarantined in a fancy hotel just as long as it’s clean.)
According to the OFW, there are more than a hundred of them quarantined in the Quezon City hotel. Their colleagues staying in a hotel in Tagaytay did not experience similar concerns.