Iloilo town mayor bars returning OFWs

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

The municipality of Concepcion, Iloilo will not allow Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from their town to return home amid the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) in the province.

The ECQ in Iloilo was implemented by Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. through Executive Order No. 080 on March 20, 2020, as part of its response to the threat of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

It was extended to April 30, 2020 from April 14 through Executive Order No. 102 issued on April 8, 2020.

In a Facebook post on Sunday, Mayor Raul Banias said he received a letter from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) instructing them to allow OFWs to return from abroad or from Manila directly to their families.

He said that he will not allow the workers to re-enter to protect the town’s residents and their families.

“I have to protect you, your families and our kasimanwas. Let it be known. I have received a letter from OWWA instructing us to allow our kasimanwas to go home from abroad. I am sorry I will not allow OFWs including seamen to come back from abroad or from Manila and go home to their families directly,” Banias said.

In the same post, he added that they must be tested and quarantined in facilities first before they return. He also added that the OFWs will still undergo 14-day quarantine in the town’s facilities located in its public schools.

“They should be tested first and then [Department of Health] quarantine them. If results are negative they can go home but I will put them in School Quarantine to complete the 14 days for strict monitoring. I will not allow Home Quarantine,” he said.

 

RESPONSES TO COMMENTS

Banias also responded to comments made by residents and netizens to his post.

He clarified that he cannot readily accept the OWWA’s statement that these OFWs had already completed their quarantine.

He cited the latest case in Iloilo City, a 40-year-old male from La Paz district who had history of travel to the United Kingdom.

“There is re-infection so we [cannot] be safe to just accept OWWA’s statement that they already complete their quarantine. Take a look at the latest case of Positive Case in Iloilo City. He came from UK,” he said.

One netizen commented that his seafarer relative was stuck in Manila for a month. He also asked the mayor for his help getting the seaman home.

The mayor replied, saying that it would be better for the relative to stay in Manila for the moment.

Banias added that he may provide financial help to the OFW if he chose to stay in Manila.

“Better if he will stay na lang sa Manila anay. Mabulig ako financial sa akon masarangan kon didto sya sa Manila. Kon mag abot diri sya indi man sya gihapon maka lusot sa tanan nga checkpoints kay wala pa sya ECQ pass. And even if may ECQ Pass sya, wala madala sa exemptions ang pag pauli sang seaman or OFW. I have to protect him and also his family and all our kasimanwas,” he replied.