City officials are hopeful that the city will be able to handle the surge of returning Overseas Filipino Workers and stranded residents and local workers with the systems that were proactively put up.
The country is bracing for the surge in the arrival of OFWs in the coming weeks and as local government units open their borders to returning residents and local workers with the easing up of community quarantines.
These present challenges in efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (Covid-19) and to cushion the economic impact of the pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte on May 25 ordered LGUs to open their doors to the repatriated OFWs numbering around 60,000.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong said as early as April, the city government has put in place a management system consisting of containment facility, triage and disease management scheme for the OFWs, and a system for returning residents and workers with strategies for online entry, triage, and infection management.
The OFW facility set up at the Teachers’ Camp, which initially offered 129 beds under the management of the Department of Health and the City Health Services Office, has processed 260 returning OFWs from Baguio City, Benguet and, Mountain Province since April 17 in collaboration with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration-Cordillera and Benguet and Mountain Province LGUs.
OWWA-Cordillera Director Manuela Peña lauded the efforts of the three localities in complying with the guidelines of the line agencies in managing the entry of the workers.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government-Cordillera is now sorting the data on the number of OFWs who will come home to the city, Benguet, and Mountain Province.
The city’s Returning Baguio Residents (RBR) system, on the other hand, is being handled in cooperation with the Baguio City Police Office.
The mayor said he insisted that the RBR process, crafted according to the city’s requirements, be incorporated in the PNP procedure for local stranded individuals to ensure that it will run smoothly.
“It is our city and we know what we need and what needs to be done to make these systems work. We believe our BCPO can do it but since the task is beyond their core competencies, they will need our assistance,” the mayor said.
For the RBR system, the city has set up an online system to control the number of entrants and prevent overwhelming the triage and isolation and medical facilities and ensure that suspected and infected persons are properly managed to avoid the spread of the disease.
The city has so far processed 4,897 RBR applications.
The mayor appealed to stranded residents to follow the system and to bear with the delays because of the bulk of applications being received.
“We have to do this to ensure that your arrival is managed properly by way of segregating at once those suspected and probable cases and contain the transmission. We want you to come home to a safe city so please let us cooperate,” he said. – Aileen P. Refuerzo