The cost of quarantine hotels being shouldered by the government for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) has shot up to 300 percent since the sudden change in quarantine protocols implemented by the Inter-Agency Task Force.
To recall, the earlier mandatory PCR test upon arrival for OFWs was modified last February. OFWs now have to undergo isolation for five days until their COVID-19 test results are out.
“So na-triple, kuwadruple pa nga ang paglagi nila sa hotel and therefore pati ang gastos. So from mga PHP10 million a day umakyat na sa mga PHP30 million a day ang gastos natin sa hotel,” said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac.
Cacdac, earlier said the figure only covers the accommodation and does not include the food and transportation expenses. “It does not include food and transportation. It’s only for hotel accommodations. Of course, included in the hotel accommodations, the food while they are there. There are other food costs, for example, if they have been transported to the airport they will be provided with food. If they will be brought to the bus terminal, they will be given food,” he said.
He said around 9,500 OFWs are currently in different hotels in Metro Manila and waiting for their PCR test results. If the trend continues, the PHP6.2 billion available fund of OWWA may soon be depleted. The agency has already requested for a PHP9.8 billion additional budget from the government.
Cacdac assured that OWWA can still provide for the accommodation and transportation needs of OFWs at present.
OWWA caters to the needs of all OFWs during the pandemic, even for those who fly back to the country for vacation purposes. The agency revealed that half of the number of returning OFWs who availed of free testing, free quarantine accommodation and free transpo fall in this category.