Despite closed borders and the lack of commercial flights available, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Friday night brought home 155 distressed overseas Filipinos from China, bringing the total number of Filipinos the agency has brought home from around the world since the pandemic started to 400,958.
The agency’s repatriation program is funded by its assistance-to-nationals (ATN) budget.
“Most of the recent arrivals were assisted with their overstaying fees in the country by the Philippine Embassy in Beijing and the various Philippine Consulates General in Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Xiamen,” DFA said in a statement Saturday, May 15.
The repatriates arrived from Nanjing via Philippine Airlines flight PR8430 at 10:30 p.m. at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
The DFA assured that the Filipinos “were immediately briefed on the COVID-19 quarantine protocols for those arriving to the country.”
The same flight also carried the cremated remains of overseas Filipinos who died in China. The statement did not say how many cremated remains the flight carried, as well as the causes of the deaths.
“We at DFA-OUMWA continually ensure that Filipinos abroad are able to come home despite the travel restrictions in place through close coordination with our Foreign Service Posts throughout the world, host governments and airline companies,” Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.
This was the sixth flight chartered by the DFA for Filipinos stranded in China since February last year.
Of the six chartered flights, four came from the mainland and two from Macau, a special administrative region of China.
The repatriation of stranded and distressed overseas Filipinos is made possible through the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs and Philippine Foreign Service Posts in China.