More and more Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) have continued repatriating in the past few months mostly due to reasons related to the pandemic. Employment conditions in countries abroad have become difficult for many, while others have found that the medical situation has grown too risky in the country where they are employed. However it may be, thousands of OFWs are still in line to book the next flight back home.
In their case, they may not yet know about the new procedures mandated by the government for newly returning Filipinos. Most of these have to do with the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country, so various government agencies have prepared special facilities for testing and quarantine, including hotels for OFW.
To ensure a smooth process from the airport to back home, here are some of the important steps to prepare for when returning to the Philippines.
Preparations Before Arrival
The process actually begins right after OFWs have booked a flight, even if they’re still abroad at the moment. Ideally, they should have a valid email address and contact number ready for many of the forms and procedures that are to follow.
At this time, they must register for an e-Health Declaration Card (e-HDC) or the One Health Pass to provide their updated personal information and health status to the Bureau of Quarantine. This helps the government to keep a record of all entries into the country, as well as for contact tracing.
Aside from that, OFWs must also acquire an electronic Case Investigation Form (e-CIF), which can be done through the Philippine Red Cross website. This serves as every OFW’s official declaration of willingness to undergo COVID-19 testing and quarantine upon their arrival in the country.
Both of these create QR codes that OFWs must keep for easy access, which is why they must be accomplished before boarding their flight back home. They replace actual paper forms which would take longer to fill up at the airport.
Once on the flight, it would be best to already accomplish the standard forms such as the Bureau of Customs form, the arrival card, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) slip, all of which have to be presented upon arrival.
Arriving in the Philippines
Upon arriving, OFWs will be given a few reminders from the Philippine Coast Guard before having their temperatures and One Health Passes checked. Depending on whether they are land-based OFWs or not, they may have to undergo another verification process, requiring the aforementioned forms. After that, they go through the standard process of immigration with their arrival cards.
Once cleared, land-based OFWs present their e-CIFs and OWWA slips at the OWWA desk while sea-based OFWs can head to the Maritime Industry Authority Desk. Then, they are to undergo a swab test before moving on to claim their baggage and proceed to the Customs Check.
Finally, OFWs can exit the airport and await the shuttle that should take them to one of several accredited quarantine hotels. Fortunately, OWWA would have handled their accommodations for them in advance. However, they may still opt to choose their own booking ahead of time among the list of approved quarantine hotels, or they may approach the Department of Tourism desk at the airport.
Quarantine and Returning Home
Checking in marks the first day of the mandatory fourteen days of quarantine, ten of which are spent at their designated hotel. During their stay, OFWs will not have to worry about any costs since their necessities, such as food, would have been covered by the government.
Within this time, OFWs will be monitored for any symptoms of coronavirus until the seventh day on which they are scheduled for COVID-19 testing. The results of the test are often sent through text and email within seventy-two hours.
Should the test come out positive, the Bureau of Quarantine will have the OFW sent to a hospital for proper treatment. Those who are negative are also issued a medical certificate, and they will be allowed to leave no earlier than the tenth day of their stay at the hotel. Upon leaving, they must first present their test results along with the certificate to the hotel’s quarantine personnel.
At this point, OFWs may contact their relatives or the OWWA for transportation going home, or in the case of sea-based workers, they may get in touch with their Local Manning Agency. Upon returning home, they are required to complete the final four days of their quarantine at home under the supervision of their Barangay and LGU (Local Government Unit).
Returning home doesn’t have to be too complicated if you familiarize yourself with the process and prepare what you can in advance. If you’re getting ready for your trip back to the Philippines, consider Kabayan Hotel for your quarantine accommodations. Aside from being a government-accredited hotel, they also offer services to help OFWs with life after working abroad.