BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia appealed for better coordination between national government agencies and local government units regarding the return of locally stranded individuals (LSIs), returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs), and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), during an online consultation meeting hosted by the Department of National Defense 5 June, 2020.
A press release from the Bacolod City PIO said the online consultation focused on the repatriation of OFWs and LSIs, and was presided over by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and attended by the secretaries of the DILG, DOTr, DOLE, and several local chief executives. During the consultation, Leonardia pointed out that unpredictable and erratic arrivals of returnees are a big burden to the local action teams.
“We request for a system to organize returning OFWs based on their point of destination,” the mayor said.
After stating that lack of coordination is also becoming widespread, the Bacolod mayor requested for advance information regarding the details of the returnees three days before their arrival to enable the LGUs to prepare and organize things at their end.
Leonardia’s call for coordination was supported by Marinduque Governor Presbitero Jose Velasco who is President of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP) and DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade, among other participants of the online consultation.
DILG Secretary Eduardo Año responded that the LGU of origin should inform in advance the receiving LGU of the necessary information on the returning LSIs.
DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III resolved that the DOLE shall be in-charge of sending the names of the returning OFWs and their points of destination to receiving LGUs.
Agreements made during the online consultations are the following:
On locally stranded individuals
LSIs Leonardia asked if the LGU still has the authority to impose local health protocols on LSIs coming from high-risk areas.
“We find the idea of home quarantine unmanageable and even hazardous, and we would prefer to quarantine them in LGU-managed facilities,” the mayor stated, after citing examples of returnees who tested negative in RT-PCR tests in Metro Manila but tested positive after a repeat test in Bacolod.
Lorenzana confirmed that LGUs are not prevented to impose local health protocols upon LSIs, if they deem it necessary.
Issuance of travel authority
National Task Force Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez manifested during the meeting that the issuance of travel authorities will be faster if these will come from the LGUs and not just from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Año said that the LGUs are allowed to issue travel authorities to the LSIs as long as there is coordination between the LGU and the PNP.
“No one is preventing higher authorities to issue travel authorities by any means to make it faster,” Año said.
Returning overseas Filipinos
ROFs will be tested through RT-PCR in their country of origin and will be sent to Metro Manila once tested negative.
Secretary Año said that once the ROF is tested negative, there is no need for a repeat test and quarantine in Manila so that these facilities are reserved for OFWs instead.
However, ROFs are still subject to comply with local health protocols of their respective receiving LGUs. OVERSEAS FILIPINO WORKERS (OFWs) OFWs will be tested through RT-PCR in Manila and will wait about three to five days for the result.
Once tested negative, the OFWs will be sent to their respective cities, municipalities, and provinces and will be subject to comply with further local health protocols of their respective receiving LGUs.*/CITY PIO