163 Filipino crew of stranded cruise ship in Norway all safe: DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2019   •   2572

Helicopters hover above the Viking Sky cruise ship as passengers are airlifted from the vessel that was stranded off Norway. | Courtesy: CHC Helicopter through Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to closely monitor the rescue operations for the passengers of a cruise ship that was stranded off the coast of Norway.

In a statement on Sunday (March 24), the DFA said all 163 Filipino crew members of the cruise ship, Viking Sky, are safe and are helping in the evacuation of passengers

“The Philippine Embassy in Oslo, which is in touch with Viking Cruises and the Norwegian Rescue Center, reported that the ship’s 163 Filipino crew members are all safe and are helping evacuate passengers,” the DFA added.

Passengers also praised the efficiency and helpfulness of the ship’s Filipino crew in the evacuation, the Philippine Embassy in Norway said.

On Saturday, the Viking Sky sent a distress signal off the coast of Norway after it encountered engine problems in rough seas that caused it to drift toward the rocky shore.   

479 people, mostly senior citizens, were airlifted by Rescue Services. Some 20 passengers had been taken to hospital while others only suffered minor injuries, the Viking Cruise ship management said.

There were 1,373 passengers aboard the luxury ship the but none were Filipinos, the DFA said.

Report from Norwegian authorities said the luxury ship had restarted and is now moving at a slow pace. Tug boats are currently trying to move the Viking Sky to shore as three of the cruise ship’s four engines working. – Robie de Guzman

No Filipinos reported affected by underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   January 20, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – No Filipino casualties have been reported following the massive underwater volcanic eruption that triggered tsunami warnings across the Pacific, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

In a statement, the DFA said that as of January 18, the Philippine Embassy in Wellington has received no reports of casualties in the Filipino community in Tonga and Samoa.

The department said the Association of Filipinos in Tonga Inc. reached out to the Philippine Embassy in Wellington via email informing the latter that every Filipino citizen in the Kingdom of Tonga has been accounted for and that there are currently no casualties.

Internet and international calls, however, are still currently unavailable.

“As such, the Association of Filipinos in Tonga Inc. has requested the Philippine Embassy in Wellington to let their families know that our kababayans are safe,” the DFA said.

The department assured that the Philippine Embassy in Wellington is continuing to exhaust efforts to contact Filipinos in Tonga primarily through the use of its emergency satellite phone.

“Indications show that it might take two (2) weeks before the communications system is fully restored in Tonga,” it said.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs, through the Philippine Embassy in Wellington, will continue to closely monitor the situation in Tonga, to ensure the continued safety of our kababayans,” it added.

The volcanic eruption in Tonga that occurred on Saturday triggered a tsunami that flooded parts of the Pacific island nation.

DFA temporarily closes some passport service sites amid rising COVID cases

Robie de Guzman   •   January 10, 2022

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday announced it will be temporarily closing some of its consular offices amid increasing COVID-19 cases in the country.

In an advisory, the DFA said its Office of Consular Affairs (OCA), Consular Offices (COs) and Temporary Off-Site Passport Services (TOPS) sites will temporarily suspend operations from January 10 to 20, 2022 due to the steep rise in COVID-19 cases among their personnel.

During the temporary suspension of operations, no passport or Apostille applications will be processed or released, the DFA said.

Operations shall resume on January 21, 2022.

Kindly direct any inquiries to the Consular Office where the application was filed, the department said.

The following offices will be closed from January 10 to 20:

  • CO La Union (January 10-14)
  • CO NCR East
  • CO NCR North
  • TOPS Robinsons Novaliches

The following offices will be closed from January 12 to 20, 2022:

  • DFA Office of Consular Affairs in Aseana Business Park, Paranaque City
  • CO NCR Central
  • CO NCR Northeast
  • CO NCR South
  • CO NCR West
  • CO Antipolo
  • CO Angeles
  • CO Baguio
  • CO Dasmarinas
  • CO Iloilo
  • CO Lucena
  • CO Malolos
  • CO San Pablo
  • TOPS Newport Mall
  • TOPS Robinsons Las Pinas
  • TOPS Robinsons San Pedro Laguna
  • TOPS SM Manila
  • TOPS SM MOA
  • TOPS SM North EDSA

Affected Passport and Apostille applicants originally scheduled from January 12 to 20, 2022 at DFA Aseana are advised to refer to their new schedule of appointments posted at the DFA website.

“Please expect an email with further details about your appointment which will be sent to the email address you used when you booked your application,” the DFA said.

DFA restricts entry of unvaccinated passport applicants in Alert Level 3 malls

Robie de Guzman   •   January 6, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — Persons unvaccinated against COVID-19 will not be allowed to enter Consular Offices and Temporary Off-Site Passport Services in malls in areas under Alert Level 3, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday announced.

In a statement, the DFA said the prohibition, which also covers minors, was due to the restrictions imposed by malls hosting the Consular offices and off-site passport services.

“Consular Offices are unable to override the host malls’ security and health protocols,” the department said.

The department advised unvaccinated applicants, including minors, to first check the regulations of the relevant malls before proceeding to their appointments.

Applicants may also reschedule their appointments after having been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or after malls and local government units have lifted the entry restriction on unvaccinated persons.

“The department requests the public’s cooperation as it strives to deliver passport services to the public while ensuring the people’s safety and health amidst the ongoing pandemic,” the DFA said.

Metro Manila and nearby areas of Cavite, Bulacan, and Rizal are under COVID-19 Alert Level 3 until January 15 amid rising cases of COVID-19.

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