By Roy Mabasa
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) plays a major role in the implementation of the “Bayanihan To Heal As One Act” by assisting overseas Filipinos and foreign nationals to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
This role was reflected in the latest report submitted by President Duterte to the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee following the extension of the Luzon-wide Enhance Community Quarantine (ECQ) up to midnight of April 30, 2020.
The report, which covers the third week implementation of the ECQ, is based on the submissions of 85 departments, agencies and other offices under the Executive branch that were transmitted through the Office of the Executive Secretary on or before April 10, 2020.
For the third week of the ECQ (April 3 – 8, 2020), the DFA has assisted in the repatriation of 2,869 seafarers and 1,666 land-based OFWs even as it continues to monitor the status of almost 600 Filipinos in the Asia Pacific, Europe, Americas, and in the Middle East and African regions who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Part of the repatriation efforts is the provision of buses and other means of transportation by the Department of Transportation from the airport to the different designated quarantines areas. The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and the Bureau of Quarantine, meanwhile, pre-selects the hotels or lodging places where the returning Filipinos will undergo the 14-day quarantine.
The DFA has approved 15 flight permits for the repatriation of Filipino nationals abroad and also issued 14 flight clearances for the repatriation of foreign nationals in the Philippines who were stranded in various tourist destinations in the country due to the implementation of the ECQ.
Among the last foreign contingents to depart the Philippines for repatriation were the 99 British nationals who left the country via two chartered Philippine Airlines flights last April 8.
As repatriation of overseas Filipinos continues, another batch composed of 300 seafarers from cruise ships M/S Carnival Inspiration and M/S Miracle arrived last night from Los Angeles, California.