A total of 48,189 returning overseas Filipinos are already back to their respective provinces, Defense Secretary and National Task Force against Covid-19 chair Delfin Lorenzana said on Wednesday.
“Iyong una po ay ‘yung mga returning overseas Filipinos na bumabalik dito. By land transport is 19,791; iyong air transport naman, 23,899; at saka sa barko, 4,499 (The first category is those OFWs who voluntarily returned to the country. We have transported 19,791 by land, 23, 899 by air and 4,499 by sea),” Lorenzana said on a televised Cabinet meeting.
Meanwhile, a total of 75,895 OFWs, who lost their jobs abroad due to the effects of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and were forced back to the Philippines, are now safely home in their home provinces, Lorenzana said.
“So wala na po tayong backlog ngayon. Ayon po ang data ngayong araw na ito (We have no backlogs for now. This is the data we have for today),” he added.
Lorenzana, in a separate message to the Philippine News Agency (PNA), explained the difference between these two categories.
“The (48,189) were the Filipinos stranded abroad who came home. We call them ROF (returning overseas Filipinos). They are non-OFWs. The OFWs are those who were working abroad under OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) accreditation and who were laid off or lost their jobs,” he said.
He added that there is a different treatment for each category.
“The OFWs were brought home at the expense of OWWA which includes the following: plane transport, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing, quarantine at hotels while waiting for PCR results and transport to their home provinces. All these at government expense. The returning overseas Filipinos shoulder these expenses,” he added.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana said the first batch of Filipinos in Sabah whom Malaysian authorities want to be repatriated to the Philippines have arrived on July 4.
These Filipinos in Sabah numbered to more than 5,000, he added.
Most of the 395 Filipinos who have arrived are from Bongao, Tawi-Tawi, and have been subjected to Covid-19 testing in Malaysia which was paid for by the Department of Health before leaving Sabah.
All of them tested negative for the disease, Lorenzana said.
He added that they have already talked with their respective provincial governments to accept them as they are Covid-19 free. (PNA)