ILOILO CITY–Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) residing in the region who recently arrived in the country, either thru repatriation or of their own accord, may have to wait for several more days in Metro Manila before being allowed to fly home to their respective provinces in Western Visayas.
This, after the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) temporarily suspended chartered flights for them from Manila to their home cities or provinces in Region 6.
In a message sent by OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac to the media, he said the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID)-approved order for the temporary ban will last until Saturday, April 10.
He also advised OFWs not to declare themselves as residents of the National Capital Region (NCR) or Luzon if their final destination is Western Visayas.
This is because all WV residents would still need to pass another RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test upon arrival before they are allowed to board another plane that will bring them to WV.
This appears to be OWWA’s response to the recent request of Iloilo City mayor Jerry Treñas to temporarily suspend chartered flights from the so-called ‘NCR +’ (Metro Manila and the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal) as well as Cebu to Western Visayas from April 4-10, 2021.
This, according to the city chief executive, is to prevent the further upsurge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the region.
Based on the Updated Omnibus Guidelines on the Implementation of Community Quarantine, the repatriation of OFWs back to their respective homes should be unhampered. But with the recent OWWA order that apparently has the full backing of the IATF-MEID as informed by Cacdac, those guidelines may no longer apply.
MAJOR UPTICK IN CASES
To note, Treñas’s request for the temporary cessation of all flights to Western Visayas was prompted by the rising COVID-19 cases in the region in the last three weeks.
From 1,249 total active cases in the region last March 14, the number suddenly ballooned to 2,061 cases, nowhere more significant than in Antique, which had only three active cases and a year-long total tally of only 114 three weeks ago.
Now, the province has 90 active COVID-19 cases.
Another case in point is Negros Occidental, which, 21 days ago, was somewhat on the road to recovery with ‘only’ 222 active cases, placing it third in the region with the most number of active cases behind the province and city of Iloilo. Presently, they are back on top with 593 active cases. (N. Glenn Aragon/iNEWS)