By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Jullie Y. Daza
Date of birth: May 20, 2020. As it appears on the personal information data of a returning OFW.
Red Cross Chairman Senator Dick Gordon was dumbfounded. A day-old overseas worker? Next, he noted some unreadable – perhaps unpronounceable? – “hyphenated names” written in an illegible hand. As for the “lack of forms” being invoked as a reason for delays in releasing covid-19 test results, Da Flash retorted: “What forms? No forms any more, everything’s digital.”
Of such small annoyances are monumental problems made. We need high-tech methodology to achieve rapid results, but in this part of the Third World where we’re catching up with the First World, we need a second chance to become computer-literate (or is “computer” obsolete?). Illiterate? One exhausted-looking returnee blamed the clerk assisting her for making a mess by misspelling her address, probably because the clerk had never heard of her barrio-in-da-boondocks before.
To err is human, to forgive spanine. How do you forgive, with 23,999 others before you overwhelming a process that has had no template, no dry run, no ancestor? Poor Hans Leo Cacdac, administrator of OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), not quite a department secretary with usecs and asecs at his beck and call but a multitasking manager, coach, referee, busboy, meet-and-greeter, his own spokesperson all by himself, a one-man office with no underling to take some of the flak. As OFWs have been arriving by the thousands, how much longer can Mr. Cacdac keep up the pace without falling asleep on his feet?
Likewise, returning OFWs have lost sleep counting the times they were quarantined before President Duterte’s wish could be granted by his Cabinet: Send them home without delay! Before an OFW leaves her host country, she is tested and quarantined. When she arrives in Manila, she is quarantined. Before she reaches the door of her house in the old hometown, once again quarantined. One quarantine is 14 days plus those uncounted hours spent waiting, waiting in-between. Just how many Q’s are needed under ECQ, MECQ, GCQ?
With 24,000 OFWs home for good (?), expect a new batch of 40,000 in June and, by year-end, 300,000. By then, the homecoming chaos of May 2020 will be remembered as mere child’s play, once they start job-hunting. ###
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