₱5.2B approved for OFW repatriation, quarantine

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Overseas Filipinos returning to the Philippines. (FILE/SOURCE: Department of Foreign Affairs - Philippines/DFA/dfa.gov.ph)

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved an additional ₱5.2 billion to fund the repatriation and Covid-19 quarantine of overseas Filipino workers, Malacañang said Thursday.

This is less than the ₱9.8 billion budget the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration sought in March to cover expenses incurred by repatriated and returning OFWs.

Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, quoted Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello III in a virtual press briefing and said that the President had approved the supplemental budget.

“There may have to be further supplemental budget or there may have to be [an] amendment of our existing protocols,” Roque said.

OWWA earlier raised concern that their ₱6.2 billion budget for 2021 may run out in mid-May after shouldering OFWs’ hotel accommodation, food, and transportation upon arrival.

But the most recent protocol for travelers entering the Philippines added pressure to seek more funds, as returning OFWs must now stay in government-accredited quarantine facilities for 10 days compared to the original week-long period.

Returnees can continue their 14-day quarantine at home or at a hotel of their choice.

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