Mindanao Times

Exec: Decision on travel ban in two weeks


MANILA -- The government is set to decide within two weeks on whether or not to lift the travel ban on overseas Filipino workers to China and its special administra­tive regions (SARs) where there are reported cases of the 2019 novel coronaviru­s acute respirator­y disease (2019nCoV ARD).

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said the two-week window on the measure was upon the recommenda­tion of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, during Tuesday night’s Cabinet meeting.

Bello said if possible, he wants the travel ban lifted.

“I hold the position of (Foreign Affairs) Secretary (Teodoro) Locsin na kung

maaari, i-lift ‘yung ban (to lift the ban if possible). Pero ang sabi nga ni (But as) Sec. Duque said, we cannot gamble on the health of our workers so he recommende­d that we should allow a period of two weeks to observe the situation. Probably allow them to leave of the situation improves,” he said.

Once the travel ban is lifted, Bello said all OFWs bound for China, Hong Kong and Macau will be allowed to leave.

“Lahat (nang) inabutan ng travel ban. Ito lang ‘yung mga balik-manggagawa and new hires also (All of them who were affected by the travel ban will be allowed to leave. These include returning workers and newlyhired ones),” he said.

The 14-day period started on Tuesday.

Earlier, the DOLE said OFWs affected by the travel ban will get financial assistance worth PHP10,000.

On Sunday, the Philippine government imposed a temporary ban on OFWs to China and its special administra­tive regions amid the outbreak of the virus.

The measure was implemente­d as precaution­ary measure to prevent the spread of the nCoV that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei province in central China. (PNA)

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