PIER 4 NORTH HARBOR MANILA, 27 APRIL 2020 – The Malasakit Help Desk for Filipino Seafarers, composed of the Department of Transportation, MARINA, PCG, PPA, OWWA, BOQ, concerned LGUs and the seafarers’ local manning agencies, sends off two batches of balik-probinsya as early as 01:00 AM today, 27 April 2020.

The first batch, which is composed of 305 seafarers going to Bohol, Cebu, Dumaguete, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Negros Oriental, Ozamiz, Zamboanga City and Zamboanga del Sur, are now sailing onboard 2GO ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL.

Meanwhile, the second batch is made up of 281 seafarers bound for Aklan, Antique, Bacolod, Bukidnon, Cagayan De Oro, Camiguin, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Misamis Oriental and Negros Occidental, and are estimated to depart at 19:00 via 2GO ST. LEO THE GREAT.

More batches of seafarers are scheduled to sail this week as more routes will be opened, with the support of the LGUs. Social distancing is also strictly enforced, thus the limit in the number of passengers.

The endeavor was made possible by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) issuance of Authority to Travel to each of the seafarers. The IATF-EID, together with its participating agencies and organizations, are united in one aspiration to help repatriated and distressed seafarers to travel to their respective hometowns and be reunited with their families. The Balik-Probinsya is in line with the whole-of-government approach, ensuring safety and well-being of both land-based and sea-based OFWs.

Since 22 February 2020, when DFA reported first group of repatriated OFWs, there are now more than 23,000 seafarers repatriated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with many of them are coming from cruises and passenger vessels. With the imposition of the Enhanced Community Quarantine on 13 March 2020, majority of the repatriates are gathered in various hotels and accommodation facilities in Manila.

The MARINA requests the understanding of those calling the Malasakit Help Desk in consideration of the challenges in implementing the best practicable strategy in dealing with the adverse effects of the pandemic. United we stand. Together, we heal as one. Bayanihan upang COVID-19 ay mapagtagumpayan!