PASAY CITY 26 July 2020 — By the Department of Foreign Affairs’ count, the recent week brought home a total of 12,022 Overseas Filipinos (OFs). Of this number, 8,895 OFs were from the Middle East, 1,806 from the Asia-Pacific, 677 from Europe and 644 from the Americas. These figures pushed the total number of repatriates above 100,000 since the effort began in February this year.
But repatriation of OFs is not a numbers game, as each Filipino brought back to the homeland carries a story of adversity, hardship, and hopefully triumph in these uncertain times.
The recent week witnessed the coming home of three babies from India after undergoing liver transplants. There were also 15 babies of Filipinos who all returned from Kuwait. Amid the tribulations of the pandemic, these children represent the promise of young lives, and ultimately, the future of our country.
On the other end of the spectrum, the first repatriation flight from New Zealand since April also took place, bringing home some 280 Filipinos, many of whom are senior citizens.
Then there was the successful repatriation of 111 Filipino seafarers from Fujian and other areas in or near China that occurred on this year’s DFA Day – 23 July. These stranded Filipinos were gathered from nine different Chinese fishing vessels forced to anchor in the high seas for several months due to COVID-19 restrictions imposed by countries around the world. Their calls for the assistance required several weeks of coordination among various stakeholders – all the while reassuring the seamen that their plight was being addressed.
Similarly, a DFA-OUMWA organized special repatriation flight in cooperation with PAL brought home stranded Filipinos from Vietnam, composed of seafarers, PAL ticket holders, and OFWs who lost their jobs due to the pandemic with several of them waiting for a flight home as far back as the month of May.
A fisherman named Mr. Nadie Repil was one of the repatriates from Vietnam. Mr. Repil was lost at sea for a month before he was rescued by a Vietnamese fishing vessel. With the able assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Vietnam, he is now one step closer to home.
While some 1,400 overseas Filipinos were brought home from Malaysia, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia on board four DFA-chartered flights paid for by the Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Fund, others were brought home through long hours of negotiation, inter-agency cooperation and a number of online meetings, not to mention the number of DFA personnel on the ground to make sure the process is as seamless and smooth as possible for our kababayans.
Coming home by air – chartered or commercial flights; or by sea through various types of vessels – cruise ships, fishing vessels; by civilian government or military-assisted efforts, the DFA stands ready to bring home our overseas Filipinos wherever they may be. Via DFA