Gatchalian calls on DFA to be ready to repatriate Filipinos in Wuhan

Robie de Guzman   •   January 28, 2020   •   410

MANILA, Philippines – A lawmaker called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to prepare for the possible repatriation of Filipinos in Wuhan City amid the rapid spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV).

In a statement, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian urged the DFA to have systems in place for the evacuation of Filipinos in Wuhan, which is the epicenter of the 2019-nCoV outbreak in China.

Gatchalian said it is important to locate Filipinos staying in the Chinese city ahead of a possible extraction, adding that the DFA should constantly monitor the situation there so the government can address their needs.

The lawmaker cited the example of the United States, which initiated an evacuation of its citizens from the epidemic-stricken city.

“We have to prepare for any eventuality,” he said. “Nakakabahala ang mabilis na pagkalat ng coronavirus sa iba’t ibang bahagi ng mundo at mahalagang may regular din dapat na ibinibigay na balita ang DFA tungkol sa kaligtasan ng ating mga OFW.”

The senator noted that there are around 150 Filipinos in Wuhan City as reported by the DFA.

Gatchalian said the DFA should closely coordinate with the Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to ensure that overseas Filipino workers (OFW) are protected from the threat of the deadly disease.

China’s National Health Commission on Tuesday announced 26 new deaths, bringing the nationwide total to 106. Confirmed infections also climbed to 4,515, nearly double compared to Monday’s over 2,700 cases.

The 2019-nCoV was first reported in Wuhan in December 2019. Symptoms of this new strain include fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing.

As a type of coronavirus, the 2019-nCoV belongs to a large family of viruses that include the common cold, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus (SARS-CoV).

Authorities warn that the virus is mutating and can be transmitted through human contact.

The Department of Health recently revealed that 11 persons are under investigation for suspected 2019-nCoV in different hospitals in Metro Manila, Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Western Visayas, Eastern Visayas, and in Central Visayas.

The DFA, for its part, said it has met with local health officials and other government agencies to discuss strategies and protocols for the possible evacuation of Filipinos in the locked down city of Wuhan and other Chinese areas affected by the outbreak.

China’s parliament approves Hong Kong national security bill

UNTV News   •   May 28, 2020

China’s National People’s Congress’ third session closed on Thursday (May 28) after parliament members voted on a proposal to implement Hong Kong’s national security legislation.

“The session made a decision to establish a legal system and enforcement mechanism for the national security of Hong Kong’s Special Administrative Region,” chairman of the standing committee of the NPC, Li Zhanshu, told delegates at the closing ceremony.

“It will uphold and improve the ‘one country, two systems’ policy. It is in line with the Constitution and Hong Kong’s Basic Law and is in the interest of all Chinese people including Hong Kong people,” he added.

The legislation received 2,878 votes while one voted against and six abstained. The draft national security law has received international criticism with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declaring that Hong Kong is ‘no longer autonomous.’

Hong Kong, which has freedoms not granted in the mainland such as freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, has experienced months-long anti-government protests which sparked from a now-withdrawn extradition bill. (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou, Pak Yiu)

Hong Kong leader says security laws will not affect city’s rights and freedoms

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said on Tuesday (May 26) that Beijing’s proposed national security laws would not trample on the city’s rights and freedoms and called on its citizens to wait to see the details of the legislation.

Beijing unveiled plans last week for national security legislation for Hong Kong that aims to tackle secession, subversion and terrorist activities. It could see Chinese intelligence agencies set up bases in the city.

Thousands poured onto the street of Hong Kong on Sunday (May 24) in a mass protest against the planned new security laws.

Police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd and arrested almost 200 people.

More protests are expected in Hong Kong on Wednesday (May 27). (Reuters)

(Production: Joyce Zhou)

295 Filipinos repatriated from Cayman Islands, London arrive in PH – DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   May 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – A total of 295 Filipino workers and their families repatriated from the Cayman Islands and London have arrived in the Philippines, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement issued Monday, the DFA said this batch of repatriates is composed of 287 Filipinos from Grand Cayman and eight stranded in London.

They landed on Monday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) onboard an “airbridge” flight organized by the local government of the Cayman Islands.

The DFA said the Cayman Islands, which is a British overseas territory in the Caribbean, mounted the “airbridge” flight to provide an opportunity for foreign contract workers to return to their home countries amid the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The department added that it was made possible with the cooperation of the Office of the Governor of the Cayman Islands Government and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), through the Philippine Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Washington D.C.

“The Manila airbridge flight is but a demonstration of the close Philippine-UK bilateral ties,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said.

Arriola assured that the Philippine Government will continue to work closely with other governments and organizations to mount similar repatriation flights to bring home Filipinos who are in distress as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Upon arrival at NAIA, the  DFA said the repatriates underwent thorough documentation and briefing on current safety protocols prescribed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases as well as RT-PCR COVID-19 testing.

“They will be temporarily housed at Bureau of Quarantine-approved facilities for their mandatory quarantine while they await the result of their RT-PCR test,” it said.

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