More than 13,000 overseas workers return to the Philippines

Arriving passengers walk past a thermal camera at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 14 April 2020

More than 13,000 overseas workers return to the Philippines

  • Latest group of workers arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and included crew from cruise ships stranded in Miami and Barbados
  • They were greeted by representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI)

MANILA: More than 13,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) returned to the Philippines on Monday after the country initiated a process to repatriate its citizens amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The latest group of workers arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila and included crew from cruise ships stranded in Miami and Barbados.

They were greeted by representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and local agencies.

The BOQ conducted mandatory health checks before briefing the OFWs on the precautions to take.

The DFA said some of the workers have been allowed to observe a 14-day quarantine at home, while others will be moved to a designated quarantine facility.

“The DFA ensures the safe and successful repatriation of Filipinos in distress through close coordination and cooperation with its partner agencies — the Department of Health, the BI, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Department of Transportation — through a government approach, and the vital support of the private sector,” the DFA said in a statement.

The government repatriating a group of OFWs from Kuwait last week who benefited from the ongoing amnesty program initiated by the Kuwaiti government to further control the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement, the Philippine Consul General to Kuwait Mohd. Noordin Pendosina N. Lomondot said that the month-long amnesty program “shows not only the Kuwaiti government’s seriousness in fighting the COVID-19, but also the Kuwaiti spirit of generosity to its more than three million expatriates during these trying times.”

Meanwhile, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said her department has secured a total of 11,549 hotel rooms to accommodate some of the OFWs during quarantine.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government urged local government units to enforce anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws to protect frontline health workers as well as returning OFWs.

This comes amid reports of harassment and discrimination experienced by some frontline workers — including health professionals, police, military, essential services personnel, social workers and repatriated OFWs — who were refused basic services such as public transport and entry into supermarkets or grocery stores, or being evicted from their lodgings.


HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

Updated 12 min 54 sec ago

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law

  • Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing

HONG KONG: Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been arrested over suspected collusion with foreign forces under the new national security law, his top aide said on Twitter, in what is the highest-profile arrest yet under the legislation.
Lai has been one of the most prominent democracy activists in the Chinese-ruled city and an ardent critic of Beijing, which imposed the sweeping new law on Hong Kong on June 30, drawing condemnation from Western countries.
The new security law punishes anything China considers subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison.
Critics say it crushes freedoms in the semiautonomous city, while supporters say it will bring stability after prolonged pro-democracy protests last year.
“Jimmy Lai is being arrested for collusion with foreign powers at this time,” Mark Simon, a senior executive at Lai’s media company Next Digital, which publishes local tabloid Apple Daily, said early on Monday.
Police did not immediately comment.
Lai was also arrested this year on illegal assembly charges, along with other leading activists, relating to protests last year.
In an interview with Reuters in May, Lai pledged to stay in Hong Kong and continue to fight for democracy even though he expected to be one of the targets of the new legislation.