Local government units (LGUs) that will deny entry to returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who have undergone quarantine will be held liable, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) said on Tuesday.
In a Laging Handa briefing, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año warned LGUs that rejecting OFWs is a violation of the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act.
“I myself will make sure na hahabulin ko kayo [I will go after you]. I am warning you, stop na ‘yan [I am warning you, stop that],” Año said.
All OFWs allowed to return to their hometowns have been cleared of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
This came after reports of some LGUs that either impose unnecessary regulations or blatantly refuse to accept OFWs that already have the necessary certificates and documents proving that they are negative of Covid-19.
Año said having a zero case of Covid-19 is not an excuse for an LGU to refuse entry for returning OFWs.
President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated his call for LGUs to accept OFWs returning to their homes, saying that only the national government could impose travel restrictions.
Duterte explained that the national government’s power to restrict travel due to a national emergency cannot be shared with the local government.
He said LGUs that want to impose new protocols should first ask permission from the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Año told the President that all 24,000 OFWs in quarantine facilities tested negative for the coronavirus.
Under government guidelines, all returning OFWs are required to undergo facility-based quarantine and Covid-19 testing.
“Ang mga LGUs, mga pagod din talaga yan (LGUs are already exhausted) and they are very protective of their constituents but also as the President said, it is only the national government who sets the policies ang guidelines and everyone will follow,” Año said.
On Monday, the DILG ordered police officers manning quarantine control points not to hamper the transport of the 24, 000 OFWs going back to their hometowns. (PNA)