GenSan LGU wants ‘sweeper flights’ for stranded OFWs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – City officials are pushing for the commissioning of “sweeper flights” to allow Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from the area who are stranded in airports and other areas in Luzon and Visayas to return home.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera. Photo courtesy of GenSan CPIO

Mayor Ronnel Rivera said they have coordinated with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the arrangement of special flights for the concerned OFWs.

He said the national government’s Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 is already “on top of the situation.”

It is currently working to fly out the stranded overseas workers presently staying in Metro Manila and the Clark International Airport, he said.

“We reached out to OWWA and the DILG to include those who are currently in Cebu,” he said in a virtual press briefing on Monday night.

Rivera did not cite the number of OFWS from the area who failed to return home due to the grounding of domestic flights last month but said his office is currently monitoring their situation.

The flight suspension was due to the implementation of enhanced community quarantine in the entire Luzon and other parts of the country in the wake of the increasing confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

During the virtual briefing, which was streamed live on Facebook, an OFW stranded in Cebu personally sought help from the mayor.

“We’re doing our best to address their situation in coordination with concerned government agencies,” he said.

For other residents who traveled by land and stranded in various cities and municipalities, Rivera advised them to stay put until the heightened quarantine and lockdown measures will be lifted by April 30.

He said they might face difficulty in crossing other regions and eventually get stranded in the borders if they will force the situation.

The mayor noted that “region to region movements” in most parts of Mindanao are currently restricted due to the COVID-19 threat. (MindaNews)