Press Release
February 6, 2020

Bong Go pushes for immediate repatriation of Filipinos in Hubei; extends assistance to fire victims in Quezon City

Senator Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go said on Thursday, February 6, that he is coordinating with concerned government agencies to hasten the repatriation of Filipinos in Wuhan City and other parts of Hubei province in China who have expressed desire to return home amid the ongoing 2019 Novel Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease (2019-nCoV ARD) outbreak in China.

In an interview during his visit to fire victims in Quezon City, Go said that the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) may be repatriated "anytime soon". He also expressed his concern for the Filipinos who are currently in Wuhan, the ground zero of the global health emergency.

"They will come (home) soon. Anytime in the next few days, kaya inihahanda na po ang possible quarantine areas," Go said, urging officials to expedite the repatriation process.

"Dapat sa lalong madaling panahon, while observing our health protocols. Kung pumayag na ang bansang China, ready na po, pauwiin na po (agad). Kawawa din sila roon. Hindi nababayaran ang lungkot at pangamba sa ibang bansa," he added.

The senator, who is also the Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, shared that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) President and Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs Vince Dizon is in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) in preparing the Athletes' Village in New Clark City in Tarlac as a quarantine area for repatriated Filipinos.

"Na-offer po ito ni Vince Dizon ng BCDA na ready po at mas kumpleto ang pasilidad sa Athletes' Village. Ready to accommodate po sila (ng mga Pilipino na) coming from China," Go said.

"Kung saan komportable (at ligtas) ang mga Pilipino, 'yun ang preference ng Pangulo," he added.

Go also said that New Clark City would be a strategic site for the quarantine protocol because its location is near the Clark International Airport.

"'Yung Clark din po, malapit sa airport. Kung sakali, pwede silang i-diretso roon at makababawas pa sa pangamba ng mga Pilipino," he said.

According to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-Emerging Infectious Diseases, there are 45 Filipinos so far that will be repatriated from Wuhan City. They are currently finalizing the documents needed, with the help of foreign affairs officials and Chinese authorities, in order to be allowed by the Chinese government to be repatriated back to the Philippines. Once granted permission by the Chinese authorities to exit China, the repatriation is tentatively scheduled on February 8 and the repatriates are expected to arrive in the Philippines the next day, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Moreover, the government will be assigning officers to help in the repatriation, including doctors and nurses from DOH. Personal protective equipment shall be provided to the team.

The IATF clarified further that the repatriates must have Public Health Clearance as well as Customs, Immigration and Quarantine clearance from China. Briefing and counseling for the repatriates will be conducted by the Philippine embassy.

A chartered commercial plane shall be used to fly the repatriates back to the Philippines. Before boarding, thermal scanning and assessment shall be conducted again by the DOH team. While on-board the plane to the Philippines, DOH shall conduct orientation on quarantine rules and procedures. Upon arrival in the Clark International Airport, thermal scanning shall again be conducted prior to disembarkation.

From Clark International Airport, the repatriates shall be transported to the Athletes' Village. Pre-arranged rooms will be assigned to all OFWs, packed food will be served by DOH Regional Office and routine nursing care will be available for their healthcare needs. If there are repatriates with developing cases, they will be brought to the nearest referral hospital. Five DOH hospitals in Region 3 shall deploy medical teams for the whole duration of the repatriates' stay in NCC. The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be in charge of the send-off after fourteen days of quarantine.

Go reiterated his advice to Filipinos to remain calm and help the government in protecting the country and its people from this global health concern.

"'Wag na po kayong magpanic. Magtulungan na lang tayo. Sa mga nag-spread ng fake news, trolls at mga bashers, dapat kayo ang i-quarantine," he said.

Go aids fire victims in QC

Meanwhile, Go extended help to around 60 families affected by a fire that started on February 4 at Astor Street, Barangay North Fairview, Quezon City.

Aside from relief and financial assistance, Go also offered to provide for the uniforms and school supplies of the affected students. He also extended help to those who need to undergo medical operations.

"Kung sino gusto magpagamot, kahit hindi po kayo nasunugan, tutulong po kami. Kung kailangan niyo ng operasyon sa puso, o kidney transplant, magsabi lang po kayo, tutulong kami para sa inyong pamasahe, pagamot, pa-opera hanggang makauwi kayo sa inyong bahay. Mayroon din tayong Malasakit Centers para maka-avail kayo ng financial at medical assistance," he said.

Go also explained that the Malasakit Center aims to cut time, money and effort spent by Filipinos in moving from one office to another just to seek government financial and medical assistance.

With the medical assistance programs coming from the four participating agencies already available in the Malasakit Center, the target is to reduce the hospital bill of indigent and poor patients to the lowest possible amount.

Aside from the aid provided by the Senator, several government agencies also visited the fire victims to provide relief, livelihood, housing and other forms of assistance to the community.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), National Housing Authority (NHA), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor (PCUP) and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) were present and provided different kinds of assistance to the fire victims.

"'Yung mga national government agencies natin, mayroon din silang ibibigay na tulong sa inyo. 'Yung mga biktima, makakatanggap ng assistance mula sa PCUP at DSWD. Nandito rin ang TESDA at DTI, may dalang skills training at livelihood assistance. Ang NHA naman, magbibigay ng housing materials," he said.

Go was also asked by the media to comment on politicians who recently transferred from the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) to the National Unity Party (NUP).

"Ako po PDP-Laban member... karapatan nilang lumipat ng partido. This is a democracy. It's their choice kung saan sila lilipat. Kami ng Pangulo, kung saan kami nanggaling, doon na po kami magpapaiwan. Kung kaming dalawa na lang ang maiwan sa partido, then kami na lang pong dalawa," he said.

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