MANILA, Feb 23 (Mabuhay) — The Philippine government will not impose a travel ban on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) returning from Hong Kong even as the special administrative region of China is battling its fifth coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) wave, Malacañang said Tuesday.

“Sinumang Pilipino, saan man sa mundo ay maaaring umuwi sa Pilipinas, wala pong ban against Filipinos coming home to the Philippines. All Filipinos who want to come home to the Philippines welcome na welcome po (All Filipinos anywhere in the world could return to the Philippines. There is no ban against Filipinos coming home to the Philippines),” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, acting presidential spokesperson, said in a Palace press briefing.

Asked if the government would impose a travel ban for Hong Kong, Nograles said no decision yet on the matter but emphasized the need for all the OFWs to get fully vaccinated before going to any country.

“Iyan po ang pinakamabisang paraan para ma-assure natin iyong kanilang full protection kapag sila po ay pumunta ng ibang bansa (That’s the best way to assure full protection if they will go other countries),” Nograles said.

“Kung ang tanong is kung iba-ban ba natin ang Pilipino na pumunta ng Hong Kong, iyon po ang ibig kong sabihin na wala po tayong ganiyang klaseng desisyon (If the question is whether Filipinos going to Hong Kong would be ban, that’s what I mean that we have not made that kind of decision yet). All Filipinos who want to come home to the Philippines welcome na welcome po,” he added.

For his part, Philippine Consul General to Hong Kong Raly Tejada said he is hoping the Philippine government would not ban the returning OFWs from Hong Kong.

“But of course, that is a decision that I leave to our experts and our superiors in Manila. But of course, due to the—also based sa restrictions, hindi rin po makapunta rito ang mga Filipino (Filipinos cannot go here). At, you know, these things are things that need to be assessed and discussed by our superiors in Manila,” he said in the same virtual press briefing.

Nograles, however, said it would be up to the Hong Kong government if it would ban flights going to Hong Kong from the Philippines.

“It’s really up to the Hong Kong government in terms of banning flights going to Hong Kong from the Philippines. Wala tayong ano diyan, control diyan (We have no control on that),” Nograles said.

Nograles earlier said that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will provide cash aid worth USD200 (around PHP10,000) for each OFW in Hong Kong who tested positive for Covid-19.

He said the POLO immediately provided OFWs there with food, hygiene kits, and power banks to allow them to communicate while waiting for calls from the Center for Health Protection and HK Labor Department. (MNS)

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