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DFA: Over 405K OFs repatriated

July 31, 2021 Cristina Lee-Pisco 320 views

Despite challenges in repatriating Filipinos abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repatriated 405,769 distressed overseas Filipinos (OFs) since February 2020, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.

Arriola explained that of the figure, 105,606 were sea-based OFs, while 300,163 were land-based.

“For UAE (United Arab Emirates) since June, we repatriated through our chartered flights 2,069 stranded Filipinos already in the UAE and 351 repatriates from Oman. Today (July 30), there is one flight that’s leaving UAE and we have scheduled six flights also that are leaving this coming August and we have two flights also for Oman,” she said.

Arriola appealed for understanding from the OFs and their families, explaining that the DFA needs to submit to the conditions required by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases regarding repatriation efforts.

“We understand there are thousands of people who are stranded all over the world and we are doing our best to bring everyone home. It’s just that hindi namin kayang sabay-sabay,” she said.

The number of repatriations per day is subject to the availability of quarantine facilities in the country, she explained.

“We continually meet with our counterparts to be able to increase the absorptive capacity, but of course, now, we are not only receiving people in Manila. Davao had opened up also and also Cebu had opened up,” she added.

Arriola said the DFA’s mandate usually covers irregular and undocumented workers, as well as those in emergency situations.

“(We have) lesser repatriation flights in Saudi Arabia, because DOLE is already doing that. So, we coordinated also with our partner agencies to be able to have a balance. In UAE, many of our repatriates, some of them are not regular workers, some of them are undocumented, and some are really tourists,” she said.

In August, the DFA is targeting to bring home 4,610 stranded Filipinos in different parts of the world.