SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has opened several hotels here for the temporary accommodation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who were brought home under the government’s emergency repatriation program.
SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma said close to 400 OFWs were given temporary lodgings in quarantine hotels here since Sunday when Typhoon Rolly threatened Metro Manila and parts of Central Luzon with violent winds and heavy rain.
“We took them in for humanitarian reasons—and subject to strict health protocols— because there was a storm coming and our kababayans would be trapped at the Clark airport otherwise,” Eisma explained.
She said the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), which is bringing about half a million OFWs back to the country, made a frantic call for help as hotels in Clark Freeport and Pampanga that were accredited by the Department of Tourism (DOT) for such purpose were already full.
Eisma added that she requested clearance from local government units (LGUs) near Subic and they had agreed to take the OFWs in. The returning OFWs were swabbed at Clark airport before being brought to Subic quarantine hotels, she said.
According to the SBMA Tourism Department, a total of 104 OFWs arrived here on Nov. 1 and were billeted at various hotels accredited by the SBMA and the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) to take in OFWs and returning seafarers under the government’s crew-change program.
Of these OFWs in the first batch, 20 are already scheduled for transport to their respective homes after their RT-PCR tests had turned out negative, said SBMA tourism manager Jem Camba.
Another batch of OFWs consisting of 273 workers arrived here the following day, Nov. 2, after a similar request from the OWWA Region 3 office.
Camba said the repatriated OFWs were brought to accredited accommodation establishments like the Bayfront Hotel, Best Western Hotel Subic, Camayan Beach Resort, Horizon Hotel, Le Charme Suites, Mansion Garden Hotel, Segara Residencias, Subic International Hotel, Subic Bay Venezia Hotel, Terrace Hotel, Travelers Hotel, and Vista Marina.
The 13 hotels have a total of 528 rooms available for OFWs on quarantine.
Following the arrival here of repatriated OFWs during Typhoon Rolly, Eisma said the SBMA will consult with neighboring LGUs if they would agree to continue with the program.
“I’d be inviting representatives from the LGUs, OWWA, the Task Group on the Management of Returning Overseas Filipinos, and owners of Subic hotels and other stakeholders to a meeting so that we can finally decide the matter,” she added.
Eisma said that in a previous meeting, the SBMA had agreed to a request from LGUs to provide them with a list of workers from their communities who will work in quarantine hotels, so that proper COVID-19 precautions could be taken.
The SBMA further ordered participating hotels to house on-duty staff and to quarantine them after each two-week work schedule, she added.
“We will be taking all necessary health safety measures just like we did for the repatriation of Filipino seafarers under the crew-change program,” Eisma said, referring to the government initiative that was implemented here starting Sept. 10 after the LGUs gave their consent to the project.