Special flights allowed to bring home Filipinos stranded abroad

Filipinos stranded in countries with travel restrictions may be coming home soon.

(File photo/ Department of Foreign Affairs)

The government has allowed special commercial flights for the repatriation of the Filipinos stranded abroad following appeals made by concerned sectors. An inter-agency task group will be formed to facilitate the special repatriation flights via commercial airlines.

"The IATF likewise authorized the conduct of special commercial flights to bring home stranded Filipinos in Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and other countries where there are travel restrictions imposed," Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.

"These special commercial flights are, however, subject to guidelines, such as the creation of a Special Working Group (SWG) to determine the implementing protocols for the special commercial flights, in coordination with the concerned airlines," he said.

Roque said the Department of Health, the Bureau of Quarantine, the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Transportation and its One-Stop Shop, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Tourism will be part of this task group.

"The special commercial flights, which must have prior approval from the SWG, shall likewise be exclusive for Filipinos," Roque said.

He said the guidelines on the implementation of exemptions for the Philippine government and non-Philippine government repatriation shall be followed.

The government has kept the entry ban on travelers from India and six other countries until mid-July to prevent the spread of the more contagious Delta coronavirus variant in the Philippines. The extension of the travel restrictions on India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Oman and United Arab Emirates was approved by the IATF late last month.

Roque explained that the the extended travel restrictions until July 15 were part of “protective measure” on tightening international border controls due to the Delta variant. The travel ban on these countries was supposed to end on June 30. Exempted from the entry ban are Filipino passengers who are part of the government-approved repatriation efforts.

Filipino workers stranded in Oman and UAE earlier appealed to the government allow them to return home.