Davao City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte has asked the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to institute Covid-19 preventive measures in its repatriation procedures of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) in view of the increasing number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city.

“The City Government of Davao has been supportive of the national government’s efforts in repatriating Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs),” she said in two separate letters she addressed to OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac and NIATF Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez on July 14.

“However, there is an increasing number of COVID-19 confirmed patients in Davao City,” she added.

Mayor Duterte presented measures she was hoping to “take effect immediately.”

In her letter addressed to Cacdac, the mayor enumerated the following measures:

1. OFWs and LSIs must present a negative RT-PCR result taken within 48 hours of departure before boarding by land, sea, or air.
2. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) flights should be scheduled regularly so that receiving LGUs can properly plan for the pick-up of their residents. In this manner, no OFWs are left waiting for hours or even days for their pick up.
3. In cases where the receiving LGUs are more than five hours away by land transport from the Davao International Airport (DIA), Overseas Workers Welfare Administration or the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should provide transportation to immediately ferry the passengers to their LGUs. This will ensure acceptance of the returning residents as well as prevent being stranded at the DIA.

The three measures were also included in her letter to Galvez. But she also noted the following:

1. Regular commercial flight passengers to the Davao International Airport must present upon check-in at the airport of origin a negative RT-PCR taken within 24 hours from departure time.
2. Discontinue carrying Davao Region LSIs in sweeper flights to other airports other than the Davao International Airport.
3. Philippine Air Force planes to Davao City must carry personnel only and must temporarily stop from accommodating civilians unless it is an emergency.
4. All individuals exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms should not be allowed to board any flight or vessel.

Mayor Sara attached a summary of the history of exposures of confirmed COVID-19 patients in Davao City from the period of July 5-13, 2020.

“The table shows that travellers from Manila are the highest number of cases in the city for that period,” she said.

The data showed that 42 cases (37 percent) of the 113 cases travelled from Manila; 36 cases (32 percent) were exposed to Covid-19 patient; 18 cases (16 percent) were community unknown exposure; 7 cases (6 percent) had community exposure; four cases (4 percent) had exposure to suspected a Covid case; 2 cases (2 percent) travelled from Cebu; 1 case (1 ni percent) travelled from Clark; 1 case (1 percent) was an OFW; 1 case (1 percent) travelled abroad; and, 1 case (1 percent) had exposure to a health care facility.

“The City Government hopes that these measures may slow down the transmission of Covid 19 not only in the city but the rest of Mindanao without giving prejudice to the need for the OFWs or LSIs to return home,” she said in the letter. CIO

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