The issue between the Philhealth and the Philippine Red Cross has created a lot of troubles, especially for the arriving Overseas Filipino Workers. As more tests are getting delayed, it is expected that there will be a mounting backlog when the operation gets back. But despite these issues, the government is still pushing for free COVID-19 testing for Filipino workers coming from abroad.
On Friday, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) discouraged those returning OFWs from booking their tests for much earlier and hassle-free results.
“At this stage, we still would discourage an OFW paying for the swab test because the process as we still would want it to be free for OFW,” says OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac referring to the government’s effort to provide free tests for OFWs. It is said that they forwarded the specimen taken from OFWs to 17 national as well as local government laboratories to speed up the processing.
It can be recalled that the Philippine Red Cross stopped its testing operations towards OFWs who were shouldered by Philhealth due to unpaid debts amounting to P1.04 billion.
Furthermore, there are thousands of OFWs waiting for their test results are currently staying at quarantine centers.
“Some of them are still awaiting their results. Those who arrived last Oct. 15, they are entering their 8th day today. But most of them are still within the 3 to 7-day range in which one awaits their PCR test result upon arrival in the Philippines,” says Cacdac.
Meanwhile, the food, testing, and accommodation of returning OFWs remain to be free of charge.