DEPUTY Speaker and Bagong Henerasyon (BH) party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera has lauded the Cebu provincial government for its innovative coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) swab-upon-arrival policy for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and returning overseas Filipinos (ROFs).
Herrera said the policy, as contained in an executive order and a provincial ordinance both signed by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, is “practical, logical and beneficial to the government, OFWs and ROFs.”
“The COVID-19 swab-upon-arrival policy strikes the right balance between ensuring COVID-19 response and protecting the welfare of returning Filipinos, especially OFWs,” Herrera said.
Herrera said the policy effectively eases the emotional and financial burdens of OFWs and ROFs while it guarantees that arriving travelers are easily identified.
“Our OFWs have enough on their hands already, we should not put an unnecessary added burden on them by requiring them to undergo a facility-based quarantine while waiting for their swab test administered on the sixth day from their arrival,” Herrera said.
Herrera said she already explained to the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH) the need to give consideration to OFWs in terms of quarantine guidelines.
“The time of OFWs here in the country is just limited and to waste it on quarantine is something inhumane,” she said.
According to Herrera, the on-arrival swab test will enable early detection of COVID-19 cases, provide access to medical care quickly, and reduce the risk of leakage of imported cases into the community.
The party-list solon firmly believes the Cebu ordinance does not run counter to the overall national objective of preventing the spread of COVID-19 as testing is done upon arrival and the results are known shortly after.
She said the ordinance clearly provides that those with negative results will be allowed to return to their homes where they will complete the remainder of their quarantine.
“OFWs and ROFs will then undergo another swab test on the seventh day in compliance with the directive of the IATF,” she pointed out.
Earlier, Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Sonny Angara have expressed their support for Cebu’s swab-upon-arrival policy.
The policy is also backed by all seven congressmen of Cebu and the representative of party-list AKO Bisaya.
Herrera urged the IATF to look into the possibility of adopting the Cebu ordinance so it can be implemented on a national scale.
At the same time, the lady lawmaker questioned the policy of requiring children and above 65 years old to present negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test result at airports.
“Bakit sila hinihingan ng RT-PCR test e sila nga ang nakakulong sa bahay?” She asked.