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RETURNING Overseas Filipino Workers no longer have to worry about the cost of their mandatory quarantine hotel accommodation as President Rodrigo Duterte has approved an additional P5 billion budget for their expenses covering the period that they are under quarantine.

However, the information didn’t come directly from the President. According to presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, it was actually Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello who told him about it.

“The President approved an additional P5 billion budget and this was confirmed by Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III,” Roque said.

“This budget will pay for the quarantine hotel expenses because of the longer quarantine period that we require for our returning OFWs,” he added.

Returning OFWs are required to undergo quarantine in a government-run facility and have them undergo an RT-PCR test on the seventh day of quarantine. If they test negative, these returning OFWs are required to finish a 14-day quarantine at home.

Interestingly, the amount that Duterte signed is far from what Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Leo Cacdac asked for. He earlier said the agency would need a P9-billion additional budget to address the longer quarantine period required for returning OFWs amid the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus.

Over 500,000 OFWs have been repatriated since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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