300 stranded OFWs from Region 12 coming home soon

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 27 April) — At least 300 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) from Region 12 (Soccsksargen) who were stranded in Cebu and parts of Luzon will return home soon through vessels commissioned from the Philippine Navy and Philippine Coast Guard.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera confirmed in a virtual press briefing on Sunday afternoon that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) had issued the go-signal for the transport of the stranded workers.

He said they have been coordinating with concerned agencies regarding the arrival of the vessels at the Makar port here, which was initially arranged last week by the Maritime Industry Authority.

“This is now in the works and the first batch from Cebu will be brought home by our Navy and Coast Guard vessels,” said the mayor, who chairs the Regional Development Council of Region 12.

Rivera said the other stranded workers, especially those in Metro Manila and Clark International Airport, will be flown home through the “mercy flights” being arranged by DILG and OWWA.

These include seafarer applicants who decided to just return home due to the suspension of deployments in the wake of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

The mayor assured that they have prepared the necessary safety protocols and related measures for the arrival of the workers.

He said those from the city will immediately undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine in a designated isolation facility.

Rivera said workers from other localities will be fetched and moved out immediately by the concerned local government units.

“We will strictly follow the COVID-19 quarantine protocols to ensure the safety of everyone,” he said.

For residents who were stranded in nearby regions, he said they will coordinate with the DILG and Region 12’s Inter-agency Task Force on COVID-19 if they will be allowed to pass through the border checkpoints of the neighboring localities.

He said they will work on possible arrangements with nearby regions once the enhanced community quarantine in some parts of Mindanao will end on April 30.

Soccsksargen straddles the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan. (MindaNews)

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