Afghanistan Crisis: OFWs escape to Dubai, Qatar with help from employers

Marje Pelayo   •   August 19, 2021   •   685

MANILA, Philippines — Relatives of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Afghanistan confirmed with UNTV that their family members have reached Dubai safely after narrowly escaping the unrest in the Taliban-controlled country.

From Dubai, they are expected to return home to the Philippines soon.

On Tuesday (August 18), 35 Filipinos arrived in the Philippines from Afghanistan.

Based on records of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), there are around 130 Filipinos in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Joseph Glenn Gumpal, who acts as president of the Samahang Pilipino in Afghanistan, said 11 more Filipinos have already made it to Qatar with the help of their employers.

UNTV was able to get in touch with other stranded Filipinos in Afghanistan whose fates remain uncertain after a series of flight cancellations.

Among them is Rio Adrias, who confirmed that they are in constant communication with the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan which has jurisdiction over Filipinos in the Afghan country.

The only problem, Rio said, was that the chartered flight that they were supposed to board on Tuesday was canceled and they were told that they would need to take a commercial flight.

“Hindi pa rin po namin malaman kung kailan makakalapag ang eroplano dito sa Kabul kasi puno pa rin po ng tao ang Kabul airport. Hindi pa rin po lumilikas nasa 10,000 Afghan po ang naghihintay [na] doon na po natutulog,” she said.

Rio is one of the 24 Filipinos currently staying in a shelter some distance away from Kabul airport.

As for their personal needs, Rio said they still have enough supply for several days.

They also worry, however, for the safety of other Filipinos stranded in areas with no access to food and proper lodging.

“Sa pamilya ko, huwag kayong mag-alala ako’y nakakangiti pa pero ako’y naiiyak. Pero doon po sa gobyerno po natin sana po talaga una, matulungan nyo kaming mailikas talaga dito kaming lahat na gustong umuwi kasi talagang ang hirap,” Rio said asking for government support.

“Hindi safe. Hindi kami okay. Hindi namin ma-explain yung pakiramdam namin dito,” she added.

Rio said if she makes it back to the Philippines, she would never go back to Afghanistan.

All she asks for is a livelihood support from the Philippine government in recognition for their contribution to the country’s economy. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

3 more Filipinos evacuated from conflict-torn Afghanistan — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed the latest repatriation of three overseas Filipinos from conflict-stricken Afghanistan.

In an advisory on Thursday (September 17), the DFA said there are still 20 Filipinos remaining in Afghanistan, two of them expressed their intention to be repatriated while 18 others opted to stay for work reasons.

As of September 17, a total of 191 Filipinos left Afghanistan after the Taliban militants took over the land-locked Asian country’s government.

“The Philippine Embassy in Islamabad [in Pakistan] continues to monitor the status of Filipinos in Afghanistan and stands ready to assist them at any time,” the DFA said.

Any Filipino in distress can contact the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan whose contact details below:
Whatsapp/Viber: +923335244762
Messenger/Facebook: Islamabad PE Atn or OFW Help
Email: isbpeatn@gmail.com

The DFA stressed that Alert Level 4 remains for Afghanistan where mandatory repatriation is in effect.

Comelec reports 52% voter turnout in internet voting test run among overseas Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported a 52% voter turnout during the internet voting pilot test run for overseas Filipinos.

In a press briefing, Comelec – Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada said 669 test voters were qualified for the 2-day pilot test. However, only 402 individuals of the eligible voters underwent the verification process. Of the 402, only 348 or 52.01% actually voted.

“This 402 were verified test voters. Meaning, these voters were the ones who were able to successfully go through the voter verification process, downloaded the app, uploaded a copy of their identification document, and get the selfie camera,” Lozada said.

She added that the poll body is currently assessing the outcome of the test run.

“We will still have to go over the feedback the other from the test voters as well as the audit portion which we will plan after this session. We will plan to look into the auditability of the system and we also encouraged test voters to confirm and used the confirmation ID that they’ve received,” she said.

Based on the initial assessment, Lozada said that the process of internet voting, based on the test run, was efficient.

“I think it is efficient in the sense that it did not take off the time as compared to how you would do voting traditionally. Like if you would do it like we are doing the Philippines which in-person system you have to wake early beat the line, falling in line, travel early to your polling center, line up,” she said.

She said the turnout is promising since OFOV has never reached 50 percent turnout during the actual polls.

“This is for me, for someone who has looked at the historical figures for overseas voting in the Philippines, this looks promising because traditionally, we never go beyond 50 percent when it comes to voters actually voted for overseas voting,” she said.

American firm Voatz, Inc. reported that there were several problems encountered during the voting process, including connectivity problems, SMS not received/delayed, voting instructions going to the spam folder, or some ID types not accepted.

“The number one support request was related voters were unable to upload pictures of their voter ID and a selfie. Some people were having delays because of the slowness of their network or their devices, so they keep trying and eventually succeed,” said Nimit Sawhney
CEO and Co-Founder of Voatz, Inc.

Comelec said that it will conduct another internet voting test run with another service provider on Wednesday (Sept. 15). The results will be submitted to Congress which will be used in drafting laws for the next elections. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

DFA records 130 new COVID-19 cases among overseas Filipinos

Maris Federez   •   September 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported a total of 130 new COVID-19 cases among overseas Filipinos over the previous week, bringing the total number of cases to 23,036.

The DFA also recorded 287 new recoveries, pushing the total recoveries to 13,215, and seven new fatalities bringing the total death toll to 1,376.

Infected overseas Filipinos undergoing treatment is at 8,445.

Compared to last week’s figures, the DFA said, the total number of recoveries increased by 2.22%. Europe was the only region that did not record new cases this past week.

Meanwhile, the number of countries and territories with confirmed cases of COVID-19 among Filipinos abroad has now reached 103, following reports from the Middle East, and the Asia and the Pacific regions.

The DFA, together with its Foreign Service Posts, said that it continues to monitor and assist Filipinos abroad amid the pandemic.

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