The Department of Labor and Employment has told House legislators that even with big funding, not all distressed Overseas Filipino Workers can be repatriated and solve the problems faced by the authorities.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said even bigger funding would not bring home displaced migrant workers in the absence of other equally important factors.
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“In repatriating our OFWs, we also have to consider the lockdowns imposed by countries where they are working,” Bello said during a hybrid public hearing of the House Public Accounts Committee chaired by Rep. Mike Defensor.
He said the ‘lock-ins’ and ‘lock-outs’ in infected nations were still major stumbling blocks in the process even if the Philippines opened its doors to migrant workers amid its own restrictions to stop the spread of the deadly virus.
Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Police Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said containment of the COVID-19 outbreak in Cebu City would be a top priority for the police.
Eleazar issued the statement during a visit to the provincial capital Saturday to assess the situation as it remained under enhanced community quarantine, the strictest lockdown level, since June 16, amid the rising number of infections.
The city is the only part of the country under the highest quarantine level with over 4,400 cases.
“The first line of defense is containment and we have to implement that,” said Eleazar.
More than 100 Special Action Force commandos arrived in Cebu on Friday to augment local forces in implementing ECQ protocols. They visit small sitios to make sure everyone stays at home.
Reduced quarantine period
The Department of Health is studying a possible reduced quarantine period for people who have recovered from COVID-19.
In the televised Laging Handa briefing on Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said experts have found that a diagnosed person on the 10th day of illness could no longer infect others.
“We are studying if we could reduce this 14-day quarantine after a patient has been discharged from the hospital or quarantine facility into just 7 days,” she said.
She clarified the initial 14-day quarantine for suspected COVID-19 cases would remain.
Vergeire added the DOH had revised its protocols on the follow-up testing of recovered cases.
Government Service Insurance System President and General Manager Rolando Macasaet announced Saturday the state pension fund had extended its COVID-19 loan moratorium program for members, pensioners and other borrowers by another month or until June 2020, making it a four-month moratorium.
“The extension will provide relief to many government employees and pensioners whose families are having financial difficulties because of the COVID-19 crisis. We earlier implemented a three-month moratorium from March to May 2020 However, with the continuing crisis and quarantine measures, we made it a four-month moratorium to tide over our members and pensioners,” Macasaet said.
The pension fund chief said that GSIS would resume the collection of loan amortizations from its borrowers in July.
Macasaet said the following were eligible to the moratorium as long as they have no loan accounts that have been declared in default as of February 29, 2020: (1) active members; (2) housing loan borrowers; (3) pensioners; and, (4) inactive GSIS members who availed of the GSIS Program for Restructuring and Repayments of Debts.