The cost of accommodation for sea-based workers undergoing quarantine must be shouldered by their manning agencies, the Labor department said Thursday.
“That is pursuant to ILO [International Labor Organization] standards,” the department said in a statement. It said this new order came about after it amended a previous order.
Thousands of land-based and sea-based Filipino workers who were displaced by the COVID-19 pandemic have returned, and all must undergo a 14-day quarantine based on IATF guidelines.
A returning Filipino worker said she was treated like garbage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport as they awaited their flight home.
According to a GMA-7 report, the workers did not receive food and water during their overnight wait. They were also stationed in a hot area near the depot of broken items in Terminal 2.
“Para kaming basura dito na tinapon lang. Wala kaming kain mula pa kagabi. Kahapon pa kami dito,” Arlyn Tonquerido said.
“Kami ang bayani na tinatawag nila? Mamamatay kami sa gutom, hindi kami mamamatay sa COVID.”
The Filipino workers are on their way home after weeks in various quarantine centers in Metro Manila. Almost all of them had to endure the long wait for the COVID-19 test results before getting cleared to return to their home provinces.
They said they were willing to be on standby until their flight became available, but expressed their wish not to be overlooked or neglected.
“Pinabayaan lang kami. Wala namang OWWA na naka-ano sa amin. Kung ano talaga gagawin namin, wala,” Gretchen Lizada-Taganile said.
“Kami pa ‘yung gumawa ng idea para magkaroon kami ng flight. Tumawag kami sa LGU tapos nag-lista kami ng pangalan. Kasi ‘yung sabi ng ano, kung aabot kami sa quota, bibigyan nila kami ng flight,” Ronie Pales said.
Jell Macabutas added: “Ang panawagan ko naman po sa OWWA, kung puwede po sana, i-accomodate po ng maayos ‘yung OFWs para sa susunod hindi na po mangyayari itong insidente na ‘to kasi dumadami at dumadami po kami.”
Between 5,000 and 6,000 Filipino seafarers who have been tested negative with the RT-PCR (real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) and whose certificates have been released by the Philippine Coast Guard are still waiting to go ashore and return home, according to recruitment and migrant expert Emmanuel Geslani.
“Manning agencies of the 18 cruise ships still in Manila Bay are now arranging their disembarkation from their cruise ships either by docking the ship itself on Pier 15 or fetching them by small boats so they can go home,” Geslani said.
He said the more than 5,000 seafarers were part of the 24,000 Filipino workers who had been languishing aboard cruise ships while waiting for the results of their PCR tests from Coast Guard personnel.
The OWWA, Department of Transportation, and the Coast Guard have so far sent home 10,000 Filipino workers through flights mounted by Philippine Air Lines and Air Asia to the major cities in the Visayas and Mindanao, while the other workers boarded buses at the PITX for Northern Luzon, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Bicol and Batangas.