Free transport for stranded OFWs, students sought

A HOUSE leader on Sunday urged the inter-agency task force (IATF) against coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) and the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) to transport workers and students stranded in Luzon due to the extended lockdown.

Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, the chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said the government should “organize sweeper flights or sea transport for returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) stranded in Metro Manila and Clark in Pampanga who are from Mindanao and the Visayas.”

“Most of them arrived on March 13 to 15. They have been stranded for more than 40 days. They have all been tested for COVID 19 and found negative. I am in touch with more than 40 OFWs from Cagayan de Oro currently sheltered in Clark and more than 60 OFWs from CDO stranded in Metro Manila,” said Rodriguez.

Additionally, Rodriguez said there are 17 students from Cagayan de Oro and more than 60 from other parts of Mindanao who are stuck in UP Los Baños in Laguna.

Rodriguez added that 16 more students from CDO are stranded in UP Visayas in Iloilo.

“I hope the IATF and the OWWA have an evacuation plan to bring these returning OFWs and students to their respective provinces and cities in Mindanao and the Visayas. They are already running low on personal supplies. More importantly, they already miss their families badly,” said Rodriguez.

He said the workers and students should also be given financial assistance.

“They are willing to go on a 14-day quarantine upon arrival to their respective communities. I urge the local government units to accept them, undertake their quarantine accommodations and monitor them,” according to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez thanked all agencies, government officials and private citizens who are helping his stranded constituents from Cagayan de Oro and Mindanao.

He said he was particularly thankful to Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vince Dizon “for taking care of all stranded OFWs in Clark.”