MANILA, June 11 (Mabuhay) — A new protocol will be implemented in the processing of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Wednesday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said returning OFWs will now be required to submit pertinent information to the agency before they leave their host countries.

“I would like to inform you that under the new protocols of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), returning OFWs, before they leave their country of origin, they will notify us five days before their departure so that when we get their names, their skills, and their final destination, we will relay it to our LGUs (local government units),” he said during a Laging Handa briefing.

He added that as soon as the OFWs arrive in the country, they will immediately undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.

“In a period of one to two days, we will be able to know the results. If they are negative from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), we will allow them to (go) their final place of destination since the LGUs already know where they are headed to and also for them to prepare,” he said.

Bello reiterated that they are expecting some 16,000 OFWs to arrive in the country this month.

Earlier, the DOLE reported that there are 321,000 Filipinos abroad who were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. These workers were either displaced or have yet to report to work because of quarantine. As of Monday, a total of 42,298 OFWs have returned to their provinces. They were provided transportation back to their respective hometowns via air, land, and sea.  (MNS)

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