OFWs need ‘written declaration’ before returning to HK, Macao
By Azer Parrocha
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — Before overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are allowed to travel back to Hong Kong and Macao for work, they will first be required to prepare a “written declaration” stating that they are aware of the risk for contacting the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo confirmed that the government has lifted the temporary travel ban imposed on OFWs returning for work in Hong Kong and Macao upon recommendation of the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease.
“He (Health Secretary Francisco Duque) confirmed that the Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease has decided to lift the travel ban of the overseas [Filipino] workers going to Macao and Hong Kong. According to him, those OFWs going back will have to make a written declaration that they know the risk of going back to their places of work,” Panelo said in a media interview.
He said the task force recommended the lifting of the ban following several requests made by OFWs concerned that they may lose their jobs if they failed to resume work after their vacation leave.
“I suppose there has [sic] been persistent requests from the OFWs themselves. In fact, I received one call that he was fired, he is a family driver, and he was fired from that position because he has not gone back,” he said.
He assured that despite their insistence to return to their respective workplaces, the government will still provide them with the necessary assistance.
“The government will always protect and provide support and assistance to all Filipinos whether here or abroad,” he said.
He also explained that the ban was only imposed because President Rodrigo Duterte was concerned about their safety.
On the other hand, OFWs who wish to be repatriated will also be given assistance by the government and undergo the prescribed 14-day quarantine, he said.
Despite lifting the ban on Hong Kong and Macao, Panelo said the ban on mainland China, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak, remains.
Currently, over 70,000 people are confirmed to have had the disease while more than 1,800 people have died.
There are 27 Filipinos aboard a quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan who tested positive for Covid-19, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
One Filipino worker in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is recovering from the disease.
In the Philippines, there are three confirmed Covid-19 cases and over 400 persons under investigation. (PNA)