Without financial aid and medical attention for OFWs, quarantine shelters are nothing but plain detention facilities — Migrante International

For a quarantine to be effective in minimizing the spread and risk or disease, it must be accompanied by preventive healthcare and medical attention. Since the start of the lockdown, repatriated OFWs have been brought to “quarantine facilities” for observation which is supposed to take a maximum of 14 days. However, as OFWs from a Pasay lodge have related, they still have not received any form of financial relief or health services from OWWA or from any other government agency. It came to a tragic point that one of the OFWs in the temporary OWWA shelter ended up committing suicide due to extreme stress believed to be caused by depression, anxiety and government neglect. The OFW suicide victim had a history of abuse and maltreatment by her previous employers in Kuwait. OWWA should have already seen beforehand the necessity of psychosocial intervention for OFWs under quarantine. 

One week to go and these OFWs in OWWA’s temporary shelter in Pasay will have been under quarantine for an entire month. Where is the Duterte government’s promise that these OFWs will be brought back to their respective provinces? Without aid and medical attention while under quarantine, this is appearing to be more like mass detention of OFWs confined in “temporary OWWA shelters.” After the suicide tragedy of the OFW from Kuwait, OFWs from that same lodge are now being told that they will be transferred to another quarantine facility but they want none of it since it only increases their risk of exposure to the pandemic. In fact, they should now be transported back to their provinces as promised by the Duterte government. 

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From the moment of their arrival at the airport, OWWA should already have prior knowledge that many of these OFWs have had various traumatic experiences during their time overseas. Looking at the Duterte government’s inutility and negligence in its handling of “quarantine” measures, it is proving to be just another major source of trauma for OFWs. Worse, the Duterte government is hell-bent on mandatorily extracting Philhealth collections even at this period of crisis. The Duterte regime’s terrible greed is more than likely to outlast this pandemic. 

Migrante International calls on President Duterte and his government agencies to provide financial relief and medical attention to all OFWs under quarantine. They have families to support and without any income, the hunger and hardships being experienced by their loved ones add up to their distress. This should likewise be the time for the Duterte government to stop extracting Philhealth collections. Travel assistance for OFWs who have completed the fourteen-day quarantine must be undertaken straight away so they can return back safely into their respective families. Our clamour for justice for the OFW suicide victim endures and we call on all OFWs and their families to continue pressing the Duterte government to ameliorate them for their hardships and agonies. 

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