Repatriation of Filipinos from Indonesia awaits IATF approval – PH envoy

Published July 22, 2021, 2:34 PM

by Roy Mabasa

The Philippine Embassy in Jakarta is awaiting the decision of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on whether to allow Filipinos to return to the country following the spike of Delta variant cases in Indonesia.

Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hiong Wee (via Facebook/PCOO)

Philippine Ambassador Lee Hiong Wee said these Filipinos, most of them with expired working contracts, have signified their intention to be repatriated but cannot do so due to the IATF’s implementation of a ban for incoming flights from Indonesia to prevent the spread of Delta variant in the country.

“If the IATF can do that, it’s going to release a lot of pressure on the part of the Embassy,” Wee said at the virtual Malacañang press briefing Thursday.

While he did not disclose how many Filipinos have so far requested to be repatriated, the Philippine envoy said they would need “one or two flights” to accommodate the would-be repatriates.

There are more or less six to eight thousand Filipinos all over Indonesia, according to Wee.

In Thailand, Philippine Ambassador Millicent Cruz Paredes said there are at least 90 Filipinos who have indicated their intent to be repatriated amid the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the past several days.

While processing the documentation of those who requested repatriation, Paredes said the Embassy is also issuing letters of request addressed to Thai authorities to extend the stay of these Filipinos.

“For the repatriation, we have 90 requests right now and are being processed right now. But what we have done since last year is to issue a letter to extend their stay because we know that travel is restricted,” she said, adding that they have so far issued around 40,000 letters of request for the extension of stay of Filipino nationals since last year.

On the vaccination of estimated 30,000-strong Filipino community members in Thailand, Ambassador Paredes said they have set up a portal to enable those Filipinos who wanted to be vaccinated and submitted the list to the Thai government for consideration.