The Philippine Embassy in Damascus reported that 21 Filipinos are expected to arrive from Syria onboard a Qatar Airways flight this evening in light of the Philippine government’s raising of alert level 3 (voluntary repatriation) in said country.
The Embassy repatriated six Filipinos on September 20. One Filipino also arrived from Damascus on September 21.
Most of the Filipino repatriates were household service workers (HSWs) who expressed their desire to come home due to labor-related issues with their respective employers.
The Embassy and the Overseas Preparedness and Response Team with a 10-member Rapid Reaction Team (RRT) for Syria conducted intensive negotiations with the Filipino repatriates’ employers for the immediate release of their exit visas.
The RRT arrived in Syria three weeks ago as augmentation personnel to the Embassy in its efforts to repatriate Filipinos in the country. The team is composed of officials from the DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
Following the instruction of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, the Philippine Embassy in Damascus has been intensifying its efforts to repatriate Filipino nationals in Syria, according to Charge d’Affaires Ricardo Endaya.
The DFA has raised Alert Level 3 in Syria on August 16, and have enjoined Filipinos in the country to go home. Under Alert Level 3, voluntary repatriation at government’s expense will be offered to Filipinos who wish to leave Syria in light of the escalating tensions there.
In Manila, the DFA has organized the Task Group on Voluntary Repatriation-Syria. Relatives of Filipinos in Syria living in the Philippines may call the following numbers: 834-4617, 834-4618, 834-4619, 834-4620, 834-4621, 834-4622, 834-4623, 834-4624, 834-3245 and 834-3240 (from 8 A.M. to 8 P.M., Monday to Sunday); 834-3333 and 834-4997 (from 8 P.M. to 8 A.M., Monday to Sunday).
They may also send text messages to +639275768621 or +639158445546.
Filipinos in Syria may likewise call the Philippine Embassy in Damascus at the dedicated hotline numbers +96311-6132626 (landline), and +96393-2176214 and +96399-0270464 (mobile) to seek assistance and information from the Embassy.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), in cooperation with SMART Communications, has made available a 24-hour Libreng Tawag for families of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who may wish to talk directly to their relatives in Libya.
Starting 9:00 this Saturday, families of OFWs can go to the south wing lobby of the DFA Main Building in Pasay City to avail of the Libreng Tawag joint public service program, according to its press release.
A crisis management center has also been set-up with 24-hour hotline numbers (834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646) at the DFA for families of OFWs who may want to get information about the conditions of their relatives in Libya.
The DFA is on a full relocation and repatriation mode in view of the escalating violence and widespread insecurity in Libya, the statement said.
It is also fully committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of the Filipino nationals in Libya, it further assured.
Some 54 distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were among those who camped beside the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last night.
The Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) that the repatriated group consisted of 54 Filipinos who were part of many distressed migrant workers from the Khandara overpass area that the Saudi immigration police took into custody on 2-3 February 2011.
Many of the repatriated OFWs suffered maltreatment from their previous employers or had experiences of contractual substitution and non-payment of salaries, according to the DFA press release.
The Consulate, together with the Filipino community, provided food and basic necessities to the OFWs while they were in Jeddah waiting for their exit visas, the DFA noted.
Representatives from the DFA-OUMWA and from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration extended assistance to the repatriates at the airport, the press release claimed.
The Consulate made representations with the Saudi authorities for the issuance of the repatriates’ exit visas, the DFA further said.
A 24-hour hotline number for relatives of Filipinos in Egypt who would like to inquire about their relatives has been set up at the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA). Hotline number is 834-4580.
In a press conference hastily called to answer queries about the overseas Filipino workers’ (OFWs) safety in Egypt, Undersecretary Esteban Conejos assured that the DFA has mobilized its offices in Manila and is closely monitoring developments with other government agencies.
A civil uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who came to power in 1981 has already been causing violence in Cairo for one week. Clashes between Egyptian protesters and military deteriorated to lootings, prisoners escaping from jail and street fights.
The Philippine Embassy is conducting a phone brigade, calling Filipino community members to check on their condition and to know their whereabouts. The Embassy hotline was also distributed to them should they feel that they are at risk and needed to be moved out, Conejos said.
Philippine Charge d’Affaires Eduardo Pablo Maglaya reported to Secretary Romulo that the current situation on the ground has not changed, and there has been no reports of any attacks targeting foreigners. “There is no imminent danger to the lives of Filipinos there,” the DFA press statement assured.
The Embassy reiterated its advise to the Filipino community to stay indoors, steer clear of public places—especially sites of mass protest—and avoid involvement in political actions
The DFA likewise issued a travel advisory that urges Filipinos who have plans to proceed to Egypt to postpone their visit “until the security situation has stabilized.”
The Philippine Embassy in Cairo meets the leaders of the Filipino community today to confirm their safety and fine-tune their contingency plan, including relocation centers, a review of prepared routes, and other logistical aspects in case the situation worsen and would necessitate an evacuation, according to Conejos.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo also instructed DFA-OUMWA Special Assistant Enrico Fos to implement the contingency measures it has put in place for the Filipino community in aid of the Philippine Embassy in Egypt. Consul General Ezzedin Tago, an Arabic-speaking career foreign service officer of Filipino and Egyptian lineage, is proceeding to Cairo from his current station in Riyadh. Special Envoy Roy Cimatu will also proceed to Egypt after the conclusion of his mission in another country in the region.
At the press conference, the DFA affirmed the availability of P25 million as standby emergency fund for the Egypt crisis. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representatives at the meeting also committed their agencies to set aside additional emergency standby funds.
As provided under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act (as amended by RA 10022), there is a P100-million emergency repatriation fund administered by OWWA that can be used for the crisis, Conejos stated.
Earlier, the Philippine Government called on all parties in Egypt to maintain calm and exercise restraint. It has likewise expressed the hope that the level of violence will not escalate and for an early resolution of this crisis.
The Philippine Embassy in Lebanon’s Assistance to Nationals officer Edwin Batallones escorted the first batch of repatriates.
“The Philippine Embassy closely looks after the welfare of OFWs in Lebanon, and with cooperation of Lebanese authorities, we are committed to ensuring the expedited repatriation of Filipinos in distress there,” Philippine Ambassador Gilberto G.B. Asuque said.
These repatriated OFWs were wards and prisoners of the Filipino Workers Resource Center (FWRC) and Caritas Migrant Center. They had already served their sentences. Others have been scheduled for and for deportation while some were part-time workers who have requested for repatriation assistance from the Embassy.
Another batch of 23 will be arriving this afternoon, while the third and last batch of 50 will arrive tomorrow morning.
The DFA press statement said that the Lebanese government, through the Embassy’s efforts, waived all other repatriation costs. The DFA shouldered the funding for the tickets of the OFWs, it further said.
The DFA continues to work closely with the Philippine Embassies and Consulates General around the world to facilitate the repatriation of distressed Filipinos overseas, according to the press statement.
The Philippine Embassy in Islamabad confirmed that six Filipinos perished in a cargo plane crash in Afghanistan on the morning of October 13 (Kabul time).
The PAE Justice Support, through its Safety and Security Manager Ramji Ghimire, confirmed the report, according to Philippine Embassy official Simeon Abarquez.
PAE Justice Support is an organization operating in Afghanistan which provides logistical support and security services at the United States-operated Bagram Air Base.
The Filipino fatalities include pilot Henry Bulos, co-pilot Rene Badilla, crewmembers Nilo Medina and Ibelo Valbuena. There were also two unidentified Filipinos, a certain Mr. Castillo (mechanic) and a certain Mr. Padora (avionics).
Along with the six Filipinos were an Indian and a Kenyan national. Both also perished in the crash.
The eight were passengers of a cargo plane that Trans Afrique of Ghana. A US firm contracted said cargo plane.The plane was enroute from Bagram Air Base to Kabul Airport when it crashed in the vicinity of Kabul.
A joint Afghan-international security force is conducting a search and retrieval mission, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) press statement.
The DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs has directed the Philippine Embassy to provide assistance and to coordinate with their principals for the repatriation of the remains and entitlement to benefits of the respective OFW families.
Kidnapped Filipino seafarer Wilson Nisda arrived safely in Manila this morning from Douala, Cameroon aboard a Cathay Pacific flight, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
Nisda and a Croatian co-worker were aboard the Belgian vessel Amerigo Vespucci when they were abducted by suspected Nigerian bandits in Cameroon on September 12. The vessel was conducting dredging operations in the Cameroon coast during that time.
His captors released him unharmed on September 30 following negotiations between the Belgian shipping company’s crisis team and the kidnappers.
At the onset of Nisda’s abduction, the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria dispatched Consul Alimatar Garangan and Assistance-to-Nationals Officer Alex Emam to Cameroon to attend to the seaman’s case.
The DFA-OUMWA also coordinated with the local manning agency and the Embassy on the arrangements of his repatriation, the DFA press statement said.
The seafarer’s wife together with their infant son, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) Executive Director Ricardo Endaya, Special Assistant Atty. Enrico Fos, Legal Officers Emily Villanueva-Descallar and Sorhaya Dilabakun, met him at the airport.
Also present were Overseas Workers Welfare Administration representative Mario Antonio and representatives from Nisda’s local manning agency, and Gilbert Mabasa representing The Manpower Resources of Asia, Nisda’s recruitment agency.
Nisda expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all the people who worked for his safe release and who assisted him in his return to the Philippines.
22 April 2010 – The Philippine Embassy in Nairobi confirmed the hijacking of Panamanian-flagged, Liberian-owned bulk carrier Voc Daisy Wednesday morning.
The vessel has 21 Filipino crew members on board.
The Department of Foreign Affairs Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs said in a press statement that Somali pirates seized Voc Daisy 190 miles southeast of Salalah.
23 February 2010 – The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested four members of a West African drug syndicate which recruited Filipinos as drug couriers, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday.
DFA spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said the syndicate is composed of three Guinea Bissau nationals and a Filipina.
“This decisive action by Philippine law enforcement authorities should serve as a stern warning to those who have been victimizing Filipinos. It is also a reminder to our kababayans not to allow themselves to be willing victims in exchange for money,” Malaya said.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) reported that the four drug mules arrested were in their way to bringing their Filipino recruits to the airport in Clark Field, Pampanga. They also seized from the suspects two thumb-sized capsules containing 20.0170 grams of cocaine hydrochloride as well as instruments used for drug trafficking.
The NBI recommended the filing of charges against the four for violation of the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995, and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003 before the Angeles City Prosecutor’s office in Pampanga where the arrest took place.
Earlier, DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Esteban Conejos, Jr. revealed that the number of Filipinos facing drug-related charges in China has increased at alarming levels. Seventy-two Filipinos are facing capital punishment due to drug trafficking. Some 62 out of the 72 have a chance of getting a reprieve.
Meanwhile, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Administrative Order (AO) No. 279 last week, creating an inter-agency task force for the prevention of Filipinos being used as drug couriers by international drug trafficking syndicates.
President Arroyo signed the Administrative Order on the recommendation of the DFA.
According to the AO, the fight against illegal drugs would require that all available government resources be utilized and that concerned law enforcement agencies be coordinated to ensure the implementation of a unified anti-drug program that would address the problem of drug couriers.
The Drug Couriers Task Force (TFDC) will be composed of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as chair; the DFA as co-chair; and the Department of Labor and Employment, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Customs, the NBI, the Philippine Information Agency, the Manila International Airport Authority, and the Philippine Tourism Authority as members.
The TFDC is tasked to develop and execute programs and strategies against the recruitment of Filipinos as international drug couriers by international drug trafficking syndicates that victimize overseas Filipinos.
18 February 2010 – The remains of a Filipina worker who died in the Haiti earthquake will arrive in the Philippines Friday morning (Manila time), according to the Philippine Embassy in Cuba.
Philippine Vice-Consul to Cuba Jason Anasarias said that Mary Grace Fabian’s remains was shipped to Manila from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic yesterday after clearing all Dominican documentary requirements.
Fabian’s remains was pulled out of the collapsed Carribean Supermarket at 11 AM of February 7 in Haiti (12 AM of February 8 in Manila).
She was positively identified by Lowel Lalican, the husband of Geraldine Lalican, another OFW still trapped under the rubble of the supermarket. Fabian, an employee of the Carribbean Supermarket, was identified through her uniform, hair and necklace.
Fabian’s remains was recovered three weeks after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck Haiti on January 12.
Upon the instructions of her sister Rosalyn Fabian, who is based in Haiti, the remains of Mary Grace Fabian was initially interred at the National Cemetary in Port-au-Prince. But her family in the Philippines requested the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to have her remains repatriated.
The DFA coordinated with Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and her family so Ms. Fabian’s remains can be brought home to her family as soon as possible.
“We would like to honor the family’s request to have her home,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban B. Conejos said.