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LIST: What OFWs, non-OFWs must do prior to and upon arrival in PH

By: Cristina Eloisa Baclig – Content Researcher/Writer /INQUIRER.net / December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Despite restrictions imposed in the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is still expecting a huge number of arrivals this holiday season.

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) said it has been preparing for the anticipated holiday rush with a reminder to returning overseas Filipinos that they have to follow processes before and upon arriving in the Philippine soil.

Below are the procedures that all balikbayans should do prior to and at the time of arrival at the airport:

Register to E-CIF prior to departure from point of origin

Passengers should fill up the E-CIF (Electronic Case Investigation Form), which is necessary when undergoing health protocols, ahead of the flight to the Philippines.

According to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), this form is important “to minimize the spread of COVID-19 into the Philippines through our ports of entry, It also ensures that anyone arriving into the country will be tested for COVID-19.”

At best, PRC suggests accomplishing the E-CIF at least three days prior to arrival in the country. Those who fail to fill out the form will be barred from passing through the immigration, it noted.

The form for arriving Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) is available on the PRC website.

DOTr Undersecretary Raul del Rosario said in an online forum on Wednesday that sea-based OFWs can sign up for E-CIF by the First Aide Laboratory (https://ecif.firstaide.ph/#/).

Non-OFWs, on the other hand, can get the E-CIF provided by Philippine Airlines (PAL).

Thermal scan and declaration forms upon arrival

PAL said arriving passengers shall undergo a temperature check and will also be asked to submit their Health Declaration Form upon deplaning or before proceeding to the designated waiting area.

Segregation of passengers and briefing

Del Rosario explained that once passengers enter the holding area, they will be segregated and briefed about the next steps they have to follow.

“Hihiwa-hiwalayin natin ang land-based, sea-based, at ang mga non-OFW,” he said.

(We will segregate them according to land-based, sea-based, or non-OFWs.)

Passenger information verification and swab testing

According to Del Rosario, before going through the RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test, passengers should first verify their complete information.

“Ito po ay napaka-halaga para ma-check mabuti ang mga contact number at email addresses and mahahalagang information,” the DOTr official said.

(This is a very crucial step to thoroughly check the passengers’ contact numbers, email addresses, and other important information.)

“Kung magkakamali tayo ng nakuhang information ng mga pasahero natin, magkakamali rin ang pagpapadala ng mga result nila at pakikipag-ugnayan sa kanila,” he added.

(If we make an error in collecting their information, we will also have problems in delivering their RT-PCR test result.)

Thereafter, passengers can proceed to have their swab test done.

Bureau of Immigration counter

Before getting their baggage, PAL said passengers will pass through the Bureau of Immigration counter to submit their Arrival Cards.

Help desks

All arriving passengers also need to go to the stationed help desks to receive additional information regarding the mandatory 14-day quarantine procedure that they have to comply.

“Bago sila lumabas sa airport, dadaan sila sa mga help desk na nasa airport mismo. Dito po sila binibigyan ng mga kani-kanilang mga quarantine facility assignment,” said Del Rosario.

(Before leaving the airport, they need to stop by the help desks inside the airport. There, they will be assigned with their own quarantine facility assignment.)

Help desks of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will assist land-based passengers while the Maritime Industry Authority will assist sea-based passengers. The Department of Tourism will handle non-OFWs.

Transport to quarantine facility

After all procedures at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport are accomplished, OFW and non-OFW passengers will subsequently be transported to their assigned quarantine facilities via chartered transport facilities.

Del Rosario said that only OWWA buses, taxis with accreditation from the Manila International Airport Authority, and authorized hotel shuttles can fetch passengers from the airport and drop them at quarantine areas.

Release of RT-PCR test results and quarantine certificate

Del Rosario noted that the passengers will receive their RT-PCR test results within 24 to 48 hours.

“We can guarantee based on our past experiences na walang lumalabas na 48 hours sa ating turnaround time,” he said.

(We can guarantee based on our experience that our turnaround time will not exceed 48 hours.)

The quarantine certificate, meanwhile, given to passengers who has completed the 14-day quarantine.

Travel to final destination

Cleared OFWs and non-OFWs can finally go home or reach their destination through chartered flights and busses by OWWA.

The free transportation service is part of the government’s Balik Probinsya Program.

DOTr: Over 11K returning overseas Filipinos tested positive for COVID-19

MANILA, Philippines — Around 11,378 returning overseas Filipinos since May have been tested positive for COVID-19, Department of Transportation (DOTr) Undersecretary Raul del Rosario said on Wednesday.

In an online media forum, Del Rosario said that according to DOTr’s data, 2.2 percent out of the total 506,364 Filipinos who arrived in the country since May were positive of the COVID-19.

The data showed that based on the RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) from May 3 to December 13, 10,803 out of 428,216 passengers of ships returning to the country tested positive for the virus. This translates to a 2.52 percent positivity rate.

Meanwhile, 0.49 percent or 13 out of 2,668 returnees who underwent RT-PCR by the local government of Pampanga from July 8 to December 13 were positive for COVID-19.

For passengers who were tested by Philippine Airlines, about 353 or 0.84 percent of the 42,180 individuals received positive results. The data were recorded from July 17 to December 12.

During the same period, the Philippine Airport Ground Support Solutions (PAGSS) and Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory (PADL) also found that 209 out of 33,300 returning overseas Filipinos were infected by the virus. This results in a 0.63 percent positivity rate.

Stricter measures for the Christmas season

Despite the presented positivity rate, Del Rosario announced that the DOTr has increased its daily passenger arrivals to 5,000 in Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and 2,000 for Clark and Cebu.

“Yan po ay dahil sa kahilingan ng ibat ibang mga airlines na magdagdag ng flight kagaya ng Saudia Airlines at ng iba pa,” he said.

(That is due to the requests of different airlines, such as Saudia Airlines, to increase their flights.)

Del Rosario assured that the department will impose stricter measures to ensure the safety of returning overseas Filipinos.

“Nagdagdag po tayo ng swabbers at verification officers sa naia dahil dito po may bottleneck, dito po nagtatgal, so nag dagdag tayo ng mga tao para mas mapabilis,” the undersecretary said.

(We added more swabbers and verification officers in NAIA because this is where we detect a bottleneck, we increased the manpower to speed up the process.)

He also mentioned that the results of RT-PCR tests will be released within 24 and not later than 48 hours.

“We can guarantee based on our past experiences na walang lumalabas na 48 hours sa ating turnaround time,” he said.

(We can guarantee based on our experience that our turnaround time will not exceed 48 hours.)

According to Del Rosario, among the preparations that the DOTr will implement this holiday seasons are:

  • Available and additional Quarantine Facilities or Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) Accredited Hotel Rooms to accommodate all arriving returning overseas Filipinos;
  • Increased chartered flights to ferry OFWs bound for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao;
  • The implementation of Oplan Byaheng Ayos to ensure the safety, security, and convenience of riding public;
  • The Malasakit Help Desks in all airports, seaports, bus and rail stations;
  • The “OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration) Pasalubong para sa OFW” program which aims to give presents to OWWA members.

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