The rotten state of the Bureau of Quarantine under the Department of Health (DOH) has been exposed with the inhuman treatment accorded to 13 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who arrived on Tuesday from Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Understandably, the OFWs were placed under mandatory quarantine.
Despite the fact that the group already underwent a 21-day quarantine in their respective countries of origin, they still have to submit to the same procedure here to ensure that they are Ebola-free.
Unfortunately, we discovered that the OFWs were subjected to the most horrendous and sickening conditions at the Bureau of Quarantine’s facilities.
Unlike the 133 veteran United Nations (UN) peacekeepers from Liberia, these repatriated OFWs were not treated well.
There were no decent meals served, only a few bags of pan de sal and coffee. There are no plans for a hero’s welcome for these new heroes.
Instead, they were quarantined in subhuman conditions not suited for medical care or treatment at the bureau’s building in Pasay City, where they were hauled like animals.
Some of the OFWs complained about having to be quarantined twice.
“It would be better if they let us go home to our families. Anyway, we have the medical certificates,” said Nestor, one of the OFWs.
“When we got to the airport, our medical clearance was rendered useless. They should read it so they would understand that we’ve undergone quarantine,” said another OFW.
Now, we agree with Nestor that they should be provided with better facilities.
“Hindi kami nagkasakit sa pinanggalingan namin pero dito kami magkakasakit sa lugar na ito,” he said.
The facility does not have enough beds and airconditioning units.
The rooms are infested with mosquitoes and cockroaches and the restrooms are in bad shape.
The OFWs from Sierra Leone were only given 21 days vacation, which they will spend in quarantine.
“It is unfortunate that we came home after being quarantined but now we cannot be with our families for most part of Christmas,” Nestor said.
The relatives of the OFWs appealed to the authorities to shorten the 21-day quarantine period.
We definitely understand where they are coming from.
They took the opportunity to come home in time for Christmas, and subjected themselves to quarantine in Sierra Leone or Liberia, where international aid has helped set up the necessary facilities to deal with the problem.
Sadly, they have no choice but to submit to mandatory quarantine upon arrival in the country.
But we cannot accept and we refuse to tolerate the utter negligence and unpreparedness of the Bureau of Quarantine under the Department of Health in implementing the Aquino administration’s touted quarantine program.
“There are other groups that arrived on the same day as we did at Terminal 3 but they were not quarantined. Two of my companions slipped out,” Nestor said.
I hope those two are enjoying better meals and accommodations at home.
Where did all those billions of pesos given to the DOH to maintain these public health facilities go?
The Senate should immediately look into the conditions of these OFWs at the Bureau of Quarantine who feel they are being imprisoned rather than being quarantined.