Taliban allows OFW to pick up stranded Filipinos

A Filipino was allowed by the Taliban to get his fellow Filipinos who were stranded at two embassies in Afghanistan.

Photo from Elmer Presa's Facebook account/ MANILA BULLETIN

Elmer Presa, an overseas Filipino worker, said no other drivers had dared to pick up the other Filipinos stranded at the Swedish embassy and at the US embassy since the Taliban entered Kabul.

"Sabi ko sa aking boss, I will take the risk to get my guys. So binigyan po ako ng pahintulot. Sabi nya: 'Elmer, you are on your own, you can do whatever you want, just bring them here.' So yun po, kaya po lumabas ako nung gabi na yun (I told my boss, I will take the risk to get my guys. So I was given permission. He said: 'Elmer, you are on your own, you can do whatever you want, just bring them here.' So that's why I went out that night)," Presa said in an interview with ABS CBN News on Thursday.

Presa said he pleaded to the Taliban at the checkpoint to let him pass to pick up his fellow Filipinos who were stranded at the embassies.

“Sabi ko, sa salita nila, may kaibigan akong Pilipino, pwede ko ba silang kunin nang walang problema? Hinayaan po nila ako (I said, in their words, I have a friend who is Filipino, can I take them without any problem? They let me go), he said.

"“Actually wala po tayong problema sa kanila at binigyan po ako ng opportunity kaya sinamantala ko po yung pagkakataon (Actually we don't have a problem with them and they gave me the opportunity so I took the opportunity)," Presa told ABS CBN.

Presa had already left Afghanistan and is now in Doha, Qatar.

"Thanks be to God. Thank you all for your prayers for our safety. Thanks to Sir James and fellow workers who stand as a brother and sister and as a true leader during this hard time. Thank you US Air Force Air Mobility Command, Doha Qatar for your assistance, we truly appreciated it," he said in a Facebook post.

Presa said some Filipinos were taken to various places such as Dubai and the United Kingdom after several countries had sent planes to help those who wanted to leave Afghanistan.

The Philippine Embassy in Pakistan is in constant contact with them for the next repatriation of fellow Filipinos, he added.

The Taliban took over Afghanistan on Monday after President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.

The Taliban had earlier said foreigners in the city will be allowed to leave if they wish to. However, if they decide to stay in the country, they will be required to register their presence with Taliban administrators, the Hindustan Times reported.

Several countries, including the Philippines, rushed to evacuate their citizens and local staff from Kabul after the Taliban’s lightning takeover of Afghanistan.

The Philippine government started the mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in Afghanistan last Sunday, August 15.

On Wednesday, August 18, the Department of Foreign Affairs said it continue "to exhaust all avenues to assure the safety of the remaining Filipinos in Afghanistan, even as the situation on the ground remains uncertain."