Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Thursday directed the Department of Foreign Affairs to look into the plight of Filipino tourists stranded in Morocco following complaints that the temporary Philippine Mission in Rabat has reportedly ignored their appeal for help.
“@DFAPHL @dododulay (Undersecretary Brigido Dulay) I know we have no embassy in Morocco. Only an advance team to open one but that is their job as well. I want these people on first available flight out. Meanwhile advance team to house and feed them,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Locsin was responding to a social media post of a Filipino netizen who has been apparently stranded in Morocco since March desperately seeking government’s help for immediate repatriation.
“Asking for help to the embassy in a foreign country which I am stuck since March due to pandemic is equivalent to 0. It’s been 6 months since I’ve been crying for help and asking for advice but they are not capable to offer a helping hand instead, they are good on ignoring us, giving us lame excuses and rude remarks is what they are good at,” the netizen said.
The netizen was wondering why Morocco’s neighboring countries have managed to arrange repatriation flights for Filipinos wanting to go back home, even as they already expressed willingness to purchase their own air ticket to a neighboring country where there are repatriation flights to the Philippines.
The netizen claimed the Embassy reportedly told them that repatriation flights are “only for those OFWs who lost their jobs and stranded abroad.”
The netizen added, “So what about us… tourist? Aren’t we Filipinos as well who have limited funds, who have no job/lost our jobs due to pandemic (and) being stuck in a foreign land for a long period of time?”
Last June, interim Philippine Ambassador to Morocco Maria Agnes Cervantes confirmed that they have been receiving repatriation requests from “a small number of Filipinos” displaced from their jobs due to the pandemic.
“We have established our connections with them. We communicate through Viber or Whatsapp where we also send them notes during the lockdown,” Cervantes said during an interview at the Laging Handa briefing, even as she assured the embassy will continue to communicate with members of the Filipino community “to ensure that their concerns are attended to.”
Based on the latest mapping conducted by the temporary Mission in Rabat, there are more than 1,000 Filipinos currently working in Morocco, from highly skilled to household help.