The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repatriated a historic high of more than 100,000 stranded and displaced Filipinos from all over the world since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February 2020.
With an additional 12,022 overseas Filipinos repatriated this week, the total number of repatriated nationals has reached 102,519. Of this number, 42.8 percent (43,893) are sea-based and 57.2 percent (58,626) are land-based. The most recent repatriates arrived from the Netherlands, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the USA.
“Repatriating more than 100 thousand overseas Filipinos is a first in the history of DFA,” the foreign affairs office said in a statement over the weekend, shortly after it commemorated its 122nd founding anniversary capped with this year’s recognition of seven outstanding DFA officers and personnel.
Last week, the DFA brought home a total of 8,895 overseas Filipinos from the Middle East, 1,806 from the Asia-Pacific, 677 from Europe and 644 from the Americas.
“Pandemic or not, the men and women of the DFA, including those of our embassies and consulates around the world, remain fully committed to bringing home our distressed nationals abroad,” the DFA said.
During the 122nd founding anniversary, seven DFA officers and personnel were given recognition for their “substantial contribution to the advancement of Philippine interest in the global community”, in an occasion which coincided with the birthday of Apolinario Mabini, the first Secretary of Foreign Affairs.
Led by seven senior career diplomats, the honorees who were conferred the Felipe Agoncillo Lifetime Service Award were Undersecretary for International Economic Relations Lourdes Yparraguirre, former Permanent Representative to ASEAN Elizabeth Buensuceso, Assistant Secretary for Maritime Affairs Generoso Calonge, Consul General in Shanghai Wilfredo Cuyugan, Consul General in Manado Oscar Orcine, former Ambassador to Jordan Olivia Palala and Ambassador to Hungary Maria Fe Pangilinan.
“While the pandemic is a misfortune for all, we take solace in the fact that we have colleagues whose achievements we fittingly celebrate on the same day as Mabini’s birthday. We are glad that it is with them we stand our ground to face this pandemic; others would have buckled to their knees,” DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said in his message.