MANILA – The Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) on Monday reminded returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that swab testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) at the country’s airports is free of charge.

“We want to emphasize that the swab test being conducted by the Philippine Coast Guard at the airport is free. The specimen being brought to government laboratories is also free. The OFWs who are there (airport) need not pay anything,” OWWA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said in a virtual forum as he advised arriving OFWs not to patronize those offering swab testing at the airport in exchange for a fee.

He added that the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr) is looking at the issue.

“As for my understanding, Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Secretary Art Tugade are currently talking to confirm this. We advised our OFWs not to engage the offer at the airport to pay for the test. But the situation is being looked at by Sec. Art Tugade,” he added.

It was reported that returning OFWs are being charged up to PHP20,000 for the immediate release of their test results.

Meanwhile, Cacdac said some 7,000 Filipino workers who were recently repatriated have been transported back to their home provinces.

“We have sent 7,000 OFWs back to their provinces in the last four days which is a good sign,” he added.

Cacdac said there are still 5,200 OFWs who are still in hotel quarantine accommodations while waiting for their swab test results.

These workers are part of the 6,000, stranded Filipinos affected by the issue between the Philippine Health Insurance to the Philippine Red Cross as earlier reported by Bello. Via PNA

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