Capas town mayor speaks out against plan to quarantine repatriated OFWs in New Clark City

Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan of Capas, Tarlac. Photo: Capas Information Office/FB
Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan of Capas, Tarlac. Photo: Capas Information Office/FB

The mayor of Capas, in Tarlac province, appealed to the government today to find another quarantine facility for the China-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are scheduled to stay at the New Clark City (NCC) athletic stadium after being repatriated.

In a statement that appeared on the Facebook page of the Capas Information Office, Mayor Reynaldo Catacutan said that while he supports the evacuation of 45 OFWs from China’s Hubei province, ground zero of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, he was bothered by the Health Department’s decision to use NCC as a quarantine facility without consulting his government.

“I feel perturbed by the fact that [the] Department of Health (DOH) did not at all, in any way, involve the Capas LGU [local government unit] in its last-minute decision for New Clark City Capas to be used as [a] quarantine zone for these Persons under Monitoring (PUMs). We acknowledge that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) has full jurisdiction over NCC, but I, as the Mayor of Capas, appeal in behalf of all Capaseños to our dear President Rodrigo Duterte and DOH Secretary Francisco Duque to consider another place or facility as isolation area,” he said.

Read: Filipinos repatriated from virus-hit Hubei to stay at New Clark City instead of military facility

Catacutan’s opposition to the government’s plan comes after Health Secretary Duque announced yesterday that NCC’s athletes’ village will be used for the quarantine instead of Fort Magsaysay, a military facility in Nueva Ecija. Duque made the last-minute change because Fort Magsaysay would not be ready in time for the OFWs’ scheduled arrival. He initially planned to postpone the repatriation until the BCDA offered up NCC, where athletes during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games were housed.

The OFWs will be quarantined for 14 days at NCC before they are allowed to go home to ensure that they are virus-free.

Meanwhile, the BCDA released a statement this afternoon that sought to dispel any worries that Capas residents may have regarding the repatriated OFWs. It promised that it has put in place “[a]ll preventive and precautionary measures” to ensure “that the adjacent communities of New Clark City and all Capaseños are kept safe and protected” from the Wuhan virus. The BCDA, however, did not explain what these measures are.

As of 12 noon today, 215 people are under observation for possibly carrying the Wuhan virus, with most of them based in the National Capital Region. There have been three confirmed cases in the country, all of them Chinese nationals. One of the patients died over the weekend, another has already left for China, and the third remains confined at the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

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