A senator on Thursday questioned the 1,500 cap on the number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that will be allowed to return to the country per day.
According to the new guidelines released by the country’s pandemic task force, only OFWs will be allowed to enter the Philippines from March 18 to April 19.
Only 1,500 per day from the previous 3,000 will be allowed so that the quarantine facilities will not be filled up immediately.
In the event that the number of incoming passengers exceeds 1,500, the airlines will be liable or fined.
Senate labor committee chairman Sen. Joel Villanueva said the imposition of the limit seems to be the government’s admission that its quarantine, testing, and contact tracing program is not working.
“Parang limang Airbus 350 lang ang gusto nating lumapag sa NAIA kada araw. Parang ang gusto nating mangyari ay padaanin sa imbudo ang ating mga kababayan. ‘Yun pong mga naipit sa lockdown dito sa atin, ilang araw lang na hindi makauwi sa bahay nila, balisang-balisa na. Paano pa ‘yung nasa ibang bansa ka?” Villanueva said during the Senate hearing on the proposal to establish the Department of Overseas Filipinos or DOFIL.
“Ang importante po ay testing, quarantine, at pag-aralan kung paano pa mapapalaki ang available na pondo ng OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration),” he added.
Villanueva questions 1,500 cap on OFWs allowed to enter PH
OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said Thursday morning that they will ask for a supplemental budget for the repatriation of OFWs.
Their request for additional funding is P9.5 billion.
This computation was generated from the average 2,000 OFWs who go home daily, or 60,000 a month.
The budget includes the cost of hotel accommodation of 7 to 9 days and a maximum rate of P3,000 per night.
So the senators suggested, use the OWWA contingency fund instead of them looking for funds for repatriation in the next 8 months.
However, the Department of Budget and Management said that the contingency funds cannot be moved because they are reserved in case the new department needs them.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles replied that repatriation is the government’s top priority and funding for DOFIL from the contingency fund is the only option.