By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. is seeking a Senate inquiry over the ongoing government’s repatriation of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
According to Revilla, there are loopholes in the repatriation process of concerned government agencies that needs to be address given the anticipated influx of displaced OFWs—those stranded in different parts of the world since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is a pressing need to accelerate and expedite the repatriation process and maximize all available resources and systems to bring home all the stranded OFWs abroad,” Revilla said in filing Senate Resolution No. 448.
Revilla stressed the repatriation process “must be systematic and holistic” that it will bring the OFWs right in front of the doorsteps of their homes “without undue delay and unnecessary difficulties.”
Revilla’s resolution seeks to direct the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development chaired by Senator Joel Villanueva to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, joint with the Foreign Relations Committee of Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III.
The senator said he is optimistic that the results of the inquiry will help in the effective and expeditious implementation of the government’s repatriation efforts.
“The anguish of waiting, the torment of being away from their families, the financial and employment anxieties, the uncertainty of events and of the future, among many other considerations, affect their health not only physically but also mentally and emotionally,” Revilla explained.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana was recently quoted in news reports saying that only 1,000 to 2,000 repatriated OFWs will be accepted in airports and the maximum stay in quarantine facilities in Manila could be five days or even less.
But Revilla stressed that the effectiveness and actual implementation of this new strategy, to avoid overcrowding in quarantine centers in Metro Manila, “is yet to be seen.”
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) earlier said 44,724 OFWs are expected to return to the country from May to June this year.