By JOSEPH PEDRAJAS
Two-hundred Filipino crewmembers were barred from disembarking after their cruise ship arrived in Manila last Sunday due to the threat of the novel coronavirus.
The Philippine Coast Guard said yesterday that Filipino crew of the Netherlands-flagged Westerdam cruise ship was not allowed to take shore leave when it docked at the Port of Manila for re-provisioning.
The ship came from Cambodia and was bound for Hawaii, according to the PCG.
“Pag na-complete ‘yung delivery, alis na din sila going to Hawaii,” PCG spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said, adding that they have yet to get other information.
Balilo said that the foreign crew of the ship was also barred from disembarking.
There were also no passengers and Chinese crew aboard the ship when it docked, he added.
The Philippine Ports Authority banned the disembarkation of ship crew while docked at any PPA-controlled ports as it further tightened its measures against the increasing cases of COVID-2019.
Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has dispensed P81 million in cash aid to overseas Filipino workers affected by the travel ban imposed by the government due to the threat of COVID-2019.
OWWA said as of Feb. 20, it has released P81,060,000 to 8,106 OFWs who were affected by the temporary travel ban to China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
The cash assistance given to each stranded OFW which amounted to P10,000 was drawn from the OWWA Trust Fund of member-OFWs.
The distribution of cash assistance commenced on Feb. 3 for China, Hong Kong, and Macau-bound OFWs and Feb. 13 for OFWs going to Taiwan.
The assistance aims to “help stranded OFWs ease their burden and assist them back to their places of origin” during the travel ban. (With a report from Leslie Aquino)