Last week, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) transported to Western Visayas 266 OFWs (mostly seafarers) stranded in Metro Manila. Five of them turned out to be positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Treñas subsequently said ships transporting repatriated OFWs would be turned away if the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) won’t coordinate with the city government. “Sumunod kayo sa magandang paraan, o pipilitin kong sumunod kayo. I don’t want to embarrass people,” the Chief Executive said. “Mahirap ito, this is a constitutional issue.” Duterte said he may be forced to “operate” through the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG). Meals of the OFWs who were quarantined at a hotel here were delayed, and there was no regular checking of their health condition, such as their temperature. (Fever is one of the symptoms of COVID-19.) “Sa city of Iloilo, hindi ninyo tinanggap ‘yung mga (returning) overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Sir, mayor, nakikiusap ako sa inyo…magkakaroon ho tayo ng problema if you resist,” said the President in a televised address to the nation late Monday night. “I’d like to address local executives. It is your duty to help and protect your constituents. I have no quarrel that you want the contagion stopped right then and there at your doorstep,” Duterte said. “But you know, OFWs are citizens of this country. Whether we like it or not they have this constitutional right to travel abroad and to come home after working there.” “If the OFWs have money in their pockets, I’m sure that’s intended for the family. (If they are stranded for far too long) mauubos ‘yang pera na ‘yan and they would go home with empty pockets. We do not want that to happen,” he stressed. According to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), one batch would have 232 OFWs (Aklan, 28; Antique, 29; Capiz, 25; and Iloilo, 150) while the other batch, 301 (Aklan, 53; Antique, 24; Capiz, 30; and Iloilo, 194)./PN “Ang lain sa inyo kay plano-plano kamo, pag-abot sang problema itudlo ninyo sa amon,” said Treñas. During Saturday’s meeting of Western Visayas inter-agency task force on COVID-19, Treñas said ships transporting repatriated OFWs would be turned away if OWWA had not coordinated with the city government. Instead of prohibiting overseas Filipinos from returning home and leaving them stranded, President Duterte said, local governments should provide special facilities for them to complete their mandatory 14-day quarantine. OWWA did not have enough personnel, admitted its then officer-in-charge, Connie Binarao. “The national government, makinig kayo local executives, will insist you accept the OFWs,” said Duterte. Two more batches of OFWs are set to return to Western Visayas. MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte issued a warning to Iloilo City’s Mayor Jerry Treñas.