President Rodrigo Duterte wants the strict policy on quarantine and testing protocols for returning Filipino workers (OFWs) to continue to ensure the safety of their families when they return to their respective provinces.
“I cannot compromise. I am not ready for a compromise lalo na ngayon, ‘yung ibang siguro, yung rabies, rabies dyan pero ito talagang, as you have said, dapo rito, dapo roon, then you have the exponential problem now of how to take care of the Philippines,” Duterte said in a televised briefing on Wednesday.
Duterte made the statement following a request by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to reduce the quarantine day and also study when the COVID-19 test should be taken on returning OFWs.
Bello explained that his proposal is also based on the request of the OFWs who are undergoing 14 days of quarantine and the duration of the COVID-19 test so that they can be with their families.
However, Bello said they will still follow whatever the recommendations and decisions of the experts on such matters will be.
“Talagang hirap na hirap sila. They are crying . . . We cannot close our eyes to the miseries of our OFWs,” said Bello.
Duterte wants to retain quarantine protocols on returning OFWs
The secretary added that the testing positivity rate of returning OFWs dropped to 1.5% in 2021, compared to 2.07% last year.
“Kaya nga po kami nakikiusap sana na kung maaari we go back to the regional protocol noon na pagdating nung ating mga OFWs swab agad sila and then they are quarantined for five days while waiting for the result,” he suggested.
According to health experts from the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), the mandatory quarantine period can be reduced to 10 days from 14 days if the OFW has no symptoms of COVID-19.
“So ito po ‘yung proposed changes as we have already mentioned. We can shorten the duration of quarantine from 14 days. If there are no symptoms to the end of 10 days,” said Dr. Edsel Salvana in the live briefing.
“Basta walang symptoms, we can do it 10 days,” he added.
Dr. Marissa Alejandria also said that based on data from the CBC, the quarantine period could be reduced to 10 days.