2 sweeper flights to bring distressed OFWs to Davao on May 12 and 14

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 May) – Two sweeper flights are scheduled to bring in some “distressed” overseas Filipino workers who are stranded in Manila back to Davao City on May 12 and 14, Mayor Sara Duterte said.

In a live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5 on Monday, Duterte said the sweeper flights would be organized by the Department of Transportation (DOTr) Task Force to carry OFWs who have been stranded in Manila since the enforcement of lockdown last March.

She said she has yet to get the details on the flights from DOTr Task Force, including how many distressed OFWs would be flown over to Davao, so that the city government could coordinate with other local government units in Mindanao to fetch their residents.

She urged the OFWs to coordinate with DOTr for the flight schedules, including information how they could avail of the sweeper flights, which are being conducted for stranded OFWs who are supposed to fly home to Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao, and Davao Region.

She said local health authorities would implement measures for returning residents but warned that people should anticipate that there could be a spike in COVID-19 cases every time a bulk of people from outside would enter the city.

Last week, 147 passengers arrived in the city on board a 160-seater AirAsia sweeper flight from Clark, Pampanga, and another group of 270 arrived on board a 400-seater Cebu Pacific plane.

A passenger aboard the Cebu Pacific flight initially failed in the “rapid diagnostic test” conducted on all passengers and was immediately brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) for a swab test using real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine, considered as the “gold-standard” in the detection of COVID-19 positives. The passenger tested positive.

As of Monday, a total of 1,045 individuals who have been trapped here for nearly two months since the suspension of sea, land, and air travels last March 19 have been flown out of Davao City.

Duterte said at least 804 of these individuals were assisted by their respective LGUs and 205 were fetched by their relatives.

Of the total, 238 had been flown to Manila, 47 to Clark, 199 to Davao Oriental, 86 to North Cotabato, 75 to Davao Occidental, 62 to Maguindanao, 47 to Clark, 43 to Zamboanga, 34 to Cotabato, 44 to Sultan Kudarat, and 12 to CARAGA region. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)