PREPARATIONS for the expected influx of overseas Filipino workers arriving in the coming weeks to be with their families for the Christmas holiday is already in place, the Department of Transportation said yesterday.
Transportation Undersecretary Raul del Rosario, administrator of the Office of Transport Security (OTS), said the capacities of the country’s three major airports have been ramped up to facilitate the processing of arriving passengers and OFWs.
Speaking on public briefing “Laging Handa”, Del Rosario said the one-stop shop for the COVID-19 testing of visitors and “balikbayan” arrivals has been working smoothly since they were put in place in April this year.
The only hiccup has been the pullout of the Philippine Red Cross last October 15, necessitating the bringing in of medical personnel from several state-owned hospitals.
“Noon pong 13 araw na tumigil ang Philippine Red Cross, 13 government hospital po ang sumalo at naibigay naman ang lahat ng serbisyong kailangan ng ating mga OFWs nang wala rin namang delay. Ngunit makalipas ang 13 araw noong October 28 ay bumalik na rin ang Philippine Red Cross sa pag-swab ng RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction),” del Rosario said.
“During the 13 days of the Philippine Red Cross pullout, 13 government hospitals took up the slack and were able to deliver the services necessary for our OFWs. As of October 28, the Philippine Red Cross has already resumed its services,” Del Rosario said.
He said facilities and personnel at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) have been upgraded to handle up to 5,000 passengers daily.
“Nagdagdag din po kami ng mga swabbers at saka ng mga ibang katuwang nating agencies na mga taong mag-aasikaso sa ating mga OFWs. Ang mga hotel din po ay inimbentaryo namin para sa mga quarantine facilities na gagamitin at ang mga sasakyan na gagamitin ay dinagdagan din po (We brought in additional personnel to take swabs with our partner agencies who are also welcoming our OFWs. We have also completed inventory of hotels that will serve as standby quarantine facilities as well as the transport units that will be needed),” he added.
Del Rosario said the DOTr and other government agencies do not see a need to limit public transportation even with the expected greater mobility of commuters with the oncoming holiday.
“The DOTr’s priority is to serve our commuters particularly during the Christmas season.
We are even looking at augmenting public transportation without sacrificing the implementation of our COVID-19 safety protocols,” he said.