In this episode of OWWA at Your Service, OWWA Deputy Adminstrator Mocha Uson interviewed Maria Regina Angela G. Galias, the Director of the Repatriation Department of OWWA, and discussed the procedure for Overseas Filipino Workers when going home to the Philippines in these challenging times.
The episode was shown last February 19, 2021, and the topic is about quarantine operations OFWs have to undergo before going to the Philippines. Since the pandemic has taken a toll on all flights, not all OFWs are allowed to go back home and some are incapable of going home due to financial restrictions. The whole departure procedure was explained in this video, which is summed up in this blog.
DA Uson and Dir. Reg started the episode with some insights about OFWs returning home during the pandemic. When asked how many OFWs are being sent back home because of COVID-19, Dir. Reg said that more than 450,000 already went home to their provinces. This figure excludes those who are from NCR since they were able to get accessible transportation. For more details about the episode, continue reading the post.
- How many OFWs have gone back home during the pandemic?
- How many OFWs are going home everyday?
- OWWA Quarantine Protocol Guidelines for OFWs
- Can undocumented OFWs claim the same benefits mentioned above?
- If the OFW is together with his/her spouse, parents, or child, are the dependents covered by the benefits?
- What if the person together with the OFW is not a dependent?
- Video: Quarantine Protocol by OWWA
How many OFWs have gone back home during the pandemic?
More than 450,000 OFWs with provinces. If the statistics will include those from NCR, OWWA has accounted for over 500,000 or half a million OFWs who returned to their homes already.
How many OFWs are going home everyday?
2,800-3,000 passengers are departing daily. Of this number, 50-60% are OFWs. So, 1,500-2,000 OFWs are going home everyday from other countries.
OWWA Quarantine Protocol Guidelines for OFWs
DA Uson set an example so that Dir. Reg can state the complete protocol guidelines for OFWs who wish to go back to their hometowns during the pandemic. For example, an OFW from Saudi wants to go home, here are the steps to follow:
1. Register via OWWA OASIS Form – oasis.owwa.gov.ph
This is mandated by OWWA. Registering via OASIS Form (oasis.owwa.gov.ph) allows the agency to monitor OFWs who are planning to go back home. Also, this site provides an opportunity for OFWs to request assistance.
For example, quarantine and medical needs. So, if an OFW needs special assistance during the pandemic while returning to the Philippines, he/she can state it on the website during registration.
2. Preparation for departure
Once the registration is done, the OFW needs to prepare for departure. This time, the embassy and POLO will assist the OFW and hand over the information to the Central Office of OWWA. In this step, a test swab is required. Before the date of the flight, the OFW needs to get a swab test three days prior.
Red Cross will answer for the swabbing of OFWs returning via land while First Aid Diagnostics will answer for sea-based OFWs. OFWs also need to provide a working email for the result of the swab.
3. While on the flight
Before successfully departing from the origin country, the OFW needs to test negative. While on the flight, the OFWs may sit next to each other without social distancing. Sitting beside each other doesn’t mean OWWA is violating the health protocol since all of the OFWs in the flight have tested negative from Covid before flying. Be advised that face masks still must be worn for protection.
5. Airport Arrival
After arriving at the airport, there will be a briefing in a room. All of the OFWs who went home need to join the briefing to understand more about the quarantine protocols before they can go to their own houses.
When asked why is there a need for quarantine, Dir. Reg said that it’s to follow the safety protocol set by the Department of Health and other classified countries with high risks.
According to scientific data, the Covid virus lives in the human body for 14 days. The 14-day quarantine is part of the isolation process to ensure that OFWs will go home without the virus. Another swab will be done after the 5th day of staying in the hotel. There will be no swab at the airport upon arrival. This is a part of the protocol that has been changed due to special circumstances.
5. Going to hotels
The OWWA bus will fetch the OFWs and bring them to their assigned hotels. OFWs need to separate if they came together. For example, husbands and wives or friends. They will occupy solo rooms to continue the isolation. The quarantine facilities are free for OFWs from the time of arrival until they test negative from Covid before going home to their own houses.
There will be “house parents” who will monitor and assist them. In rare cases, house parents will allow a parent and a minor or a senior citizen to be together in a room. The OFW needs to request from the house parent to make this possible. The general rule is, all OFWs will stay alone in their hotel rooms.
6. After quarantine
The director clarified that there is no exemption to the 14-day quarantine. Even if the OFW went home due to the death of a family member or his/her child being hospitalized, he/she needs to complete the quarantine period. What he/she can do is to ask OWWA for assistance to extend the help to his/her family while the OFW is in the quarantine facility.
The quarantine will end with a negative swab test. The OFW needs to test negative before he/she can be issued a Bureau of Quarantine Certificate. The house parents will create this certificate for them.
7. Going home
The transportation going home will be provided for those who will go to the province. For NCR-based OFWs, OWWA allows a family member to fetch the OFW. However, hiring a cab or booking a grab is not allowed for safety purposes.
If the OFW is based in the province, the buses, air flights, and sea transportation will be shouldered by OWWA to make sure the OFW can go home safely.
There are instances where an OFW chooses not to go home directly to the province. If this happens, the OFW needs to undergo re-swabbing before flying back to his/her province. This will be at his own expense.
Should the OFW wants to go home after testing negative and without completing the 14-day quarantine period, he needs to continue the quarantine at home or at any LGU quarantine facility. This will depend on the process of the LGU. OWWA wants to remind all OFWs that not all hotel facilities are similar in terms of quality. LGU quarantine facilities in the province might be different from hotels located in NCR.
As part of the OWWA Cares Program, the transportation of OFWs are free. Buses and airplanes are only exclusive to OFWs.
Can undocumented OFWs claim the same benefits mentioned above?
The answer is Yes. Dir. Reg emphasized that the repatriation program is open to undocumented OFWs as well during the pandemic. But, they need to provide evidence that they worked abroad and need to go back home.
If the OFW is together with his/her spouse, parents, or child, are the dependents covered by the benefits?
Yes. All the dependents will receive free treatment as well.
What if the person together with the OFW is not a dependent?
Then that person can avail of the benefits under Oplan Kalinga.
Video: Quarantine Protocol by OWWA
You can watch the video below where you can check out the episode discussing the protocols for OFWs who plan to go home to the Philippines:
Kabayan, usapang OWWA Quarantine Operations tayo ngayon.
Anu-ano ba ang mga dapat paghandaan kung uuwi ka sa Pilipinas ngayong panahon ng pandemiya? Anu-ano ang dapat mong malaman habang ikaw ay naka-Quarantine? Anu-ano ang mga iba’t ibang serbisyo sa OWWA Quarantine Operations?
Sabay-sabay nating alamin, kasama si DA Mocha Uson, dito lang sa OWWA AT YOUR SERVICE.
This episode is all about going back to the Philippine during the pandemic. For those who are not yet familiar with the process, we hope this episode can help you figure out the lacking steps you are not aware of.