First batch of Filipinos returning from Sabah due Tuesday

Published June 29, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Martin Sadongdong

About 400 overseas Filipinos in Sabah, Malaysia who were stranded due to travel restrictions imposed to curb the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are set to be repatriated on Tuesday, June 30.

Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. (NTF on COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential peace adviser Carlito Galvez Jr.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19, said the returning Filipinos represent the first batch of the total 5,300 individuals who will be brought back home.

“Two weeks na po tayong nagpe-prepare. Bale ang gagawin po natin ay per sortee po na 400 (We have been preparing for two weeks now. We will transport them by sortee composed of 400 individuals),” Galvez said.

The first batch will be ferried via a Zamboanga City-based shipping line, which will be followed by another cohort after 15 days to prevent an overcrowding of isolation facilities in the city.

They will disembark in Zamboanga City and will be ferried to their respective home provinces.

He said the government has allotted a fund to ensure that the returning individuals undergo proper COVID-19 testing prior to their departure. This was done to ensure that those who will be transported back to the country are not infected with the disease.

So far, around 1,500 individuals have already completed their travel documents. Galvez expects that the others will be able to accomplish theirs before their scheduled travel.

The NTF COVID-19 earlier created the Inter-Agency Task Group Western Mindanao – Management of Returning Filipinos from Sabah (IATG-MREFS) to facilitate the swift return of the overseas Filipinos from Sabah.

About 50 percent of the Filipino repatriates are from Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi; 30 percent are headed for Zamboanga Peninsula, while the remaining 20 percent will return to other parts of the country.