ZAMBOANGA CITY – The Department of Labor and Employment-IX (DOLE 9) together with the members of the Inter-Agency Task Group Western Mindanao –Management of Returning Filipinos from Sabah (IATG-MReFS) welcomed 393 Filipinos during the arrival of the 2nd Batch via M/V Antonia of Aleson Shipping Lines on July 29, 2020 at the Zamboanga International Seaport.According to DOLE 9 Regional Director Atty. Roy L. Buenafe, of the 393 REFS, 25 are from Zamboanga City, 4 are from Zamboanga del Norte, 7 are from Zamboanga del Sur, 13 are from Zamboanga Sibugay, 62 are from Basilan, 59 from Sulu, and 172 from Tawi-Tawi. The rest of the returnees are from Bukidnon, Bulacan, Cebu City, Davao City, Laguna, Lucena City,  Makati, Misamis Occidental, Pasay, Quezon Province, Sultan Kudarat, and Palawan.

During the course of arrival, Director Buenafe together with Undersecretary Cesar Yano of Department of National Defense and Assistant Secretary Joseline Niwane of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) witnessed the process and other basic quarantine procedures observed by the returnees.

Director Buenafe assured that the DOLE 9 shall be closely coordinating with the Field Offices and Public Employment Service Offices (PESOs) for the provision of employment and livelihood services to the returnees.

At the One-Stop-Shop service area, DOLE 9 provided Information materials and guidance on the reintegration of REFS in their respective communities. Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Regional Unit IX (OWWA IX) led by RD Priscilla Flores distributed packed dinner to all the REFS.

A total of 5,300 REFS shall be ferried in batches in 15-day intervals. With the 2nd batch of REFS arrival, there are now 788 Returning Filipinos from Sabah who are in their respective communities in the country. END/With reports from Michael Vincent Macrohon, LEO-III-TSSD