Palace rejects plan to ban entry of OFWs from UK


President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday thumbed down the proposal of Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III to disallow the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the United Kingdom (UK) to the Philippines.

In a meeting with Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) and experts on Saturday night, Duterte said he could not stop OFWs from returning to the country, should they wish to come home following the discovery of the new strain of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the UK.

Duterte issued the statement in response to Bello’s proposal to include OFWs in the list of individuals from the Western state who are prohibited from entering the Philippines.

“So whether or not they would eventually come home, we cannot escape that. I abhor the idea of ‘yung hindi mo pauwiin (not allowing them to return home),” Duterte said.

Bello, during the meeting, said his proposal was meant to prevent the possible spread of new Covid-19 strain in the Philippines.

He noted that there was a possibility that OFWs who will go back to the country might be “contaminated” by the new variant of the virus.

Duterte, however, said OFWs who will yield a negative result of Covid-19 test may return to the Philippines.

He added that repatriated OFWs need to undergo quarantine upon their arrival in the country.

“I would not agree with the idea of disallowing Filipinos to come home. Mahirap iyan (That’s a difficult thing to do) unless we can prove that he is contaminated,” he said.

At the same meeting, Duterte approved the proposal to extend for another two weeks the imposition of travel ban imposed on the UK which was set to lapse on December 31.

Cargoes and baggages

Meantime, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed to withhold the release of cargoes and baggages of travelers until the conclusion of their mandatory quarantine.

Duterte viewed Tugade’s suggestion as a “good plan.”

“Prohibit them from carrying the cargoes. But that is an added burden to sa inyo (you),” he said.

However, Dr. Marissa Alejandria of the Philippine Society of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, said it is “unnecessary to quarantine” cargoes and baggages.

“With all due respect po, we don’t need to quarantine din po ‘yung baggage and cargo. The usual standard disinfection procedures would suffice whether there’s a mutation or not kasi ang transmission pa rin po (because the transmission), the main driver of transmission is respiratory droplet,” Alejandria said.

Source: Philippines News agency