TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, May 23 (PIA) -- Expect more Boholano Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), seafarers, and locally stranded individuals (LSIs) coming home soon as the Sub Task Group for the Repatriation of OFWs (STG RO) has turned to a faster method to hasten the repatriation program.
A sub-group of the Inter Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, the STG RO composed of the Bureau of Quarantines (BOQ) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), has decided to release online the Quarantine Certificates issued to returning OFWs from abroad who have completed the mandatory facility-based quarantine.
CLEARING COASTS. The Philippine Coast Guard which now is taking charge of keeping thousands of Filipino OFWs and seafarers in quarantine, has been tasked to make sure coasts are clear before allowing OFWs and seafarers to finally go home and reunite with their families. (PIA Bohol)
The Department of National Defense, PCG, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), and the BOQ agreed on the online release of Quarantine Clearance for the OFW, Filipino seafarers, and returning Filipinos who tested negative in their recent Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test on May 20, 2020.
This is so that OFWs who are cleared of the viral disease can rejoin their families as per agreed protocols.
According to Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergiere during a townhall meeting with the Presidential Communications Operations Office on May 22, the government is keen on the RT PCR as this is a more reliable test as it determines the presence of the virus in asymptomatic patients.
Real-time RT-PCR is a nuclear-derived method for detecting the presence of specific genetic material from any pathogen, including a virus.
The readily available Rapid Antibody Test, she explained, can only be used after the patient has exhibited symptoms of about seven days.
As of May 21, 2020, about 14,669 overseas Filipinos have been issued clearance to return home to their provinces and towns, STG RO said.
But owing to the travel restrictions and the inconveniences of lining up to claim the clearances, the STG has posted the clearance online.
Through STG RO Advisory Number 052020-001, dated May 31, the repatriation agencies had published the quarantine certificates on the PCG website (www.coastguard.gov.ph) and Facebook page (@Philippine Coast Guard), where OFWs concerned may download and print or screenshot their respective BOC-PCG quarantine certificates as evidence of their health condition when returning to their respective home communities.
The same website also published the OFW's Philippine Red Cross RT-PCR test laboratory report and a Master List of the OFWs qualified by the STG to return home.
The advisory, signed by Admiral Joel S Garcia PCG, also said all LGUS, Local Health Offices, Regional Task Forces of the National Task Force COVID-19, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police units, and personnel manning checkpoints and other government units and private entities concerned are informed and enjoined to extend assistance to the qualified OFWs returning to their communities.
And as a security measure, the STG said the authenticity of the online generated Quarantine Certificates may be counter-checked through the masterlist of qualified OFWs as published on the PCG website and Facebook accounts.
Concerns relative to the authenticity of the Quarantine Certificates may also be vetted by email to : firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and its hotline numbers 0917-8424980, 0917842824, 09188038353 and 0998-589-3982. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)