PH starts repatriation process; Filipinos with symptoms of nCoV will stay in China – DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   February 7, 2020   •   632

MANILA, Philippines – Repatriation of overseas Filipinos in China is underway following the arrival of the team from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Wuhan City, China who will work on the repatriation process.

Those who availed for repatriation will board a chartered flight from Hubei province in China to Clark International Airport in Pampanga expectedly on Saturday (February 8).

According to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, they will stay at the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City in Tarlac, the site designated as quarantine area for the repatriates as offered by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).

“We convey our appreciation to the BCDA for coming forward to offer their facility,” Duque explained.

“(Number one,) it’s much more strategically located. Number two, the facilities are more complete. The ambiance is very nice. It’s well lit. It’s open space and so the rooms are with almost complete amenities with refrigerators, television. Individualized toilets which is very, very good unlike in Fort Magsaysay wherein they will have to share the toilets,” he said further.

The DFA revealed, however, that China has agreed with the Philippines on certain health protocols before allowing a repatriate to board on the chartered flight.

Anyone who would show symptoms or signs of novel coronavirus will not be allowed to leave.

They will stay in a Chinese Hospital for treatment.

“As they are required by the Chinese Health Commission, they are required to undergo another check before they board the plane,” clarified DFA Undersecretary Brigido Dulay.

“If they are found to be with a fever or any symptom of the nCoV, they will be taken by Chinese authorities (and bring them) to their hospitals, facilities for treatment and they will not be boarded,” he added.

So far, there are 45 repatriates or volunteer returnees scheduled to fly back to the Philipppines.

The DFA emphasized that the repatriation is not only a decision made by the Philippine government but it is also in coordination with Chinese authorities in consideration with China’s Immigration Laws.

Nonetheless, the DFA assured that the Chinese government is cooperating with the processing of the Filipino repatriates’ exit permits prior to their homecoming.

“We can receive applications now but so far we have not gotten any more than the 45,” Dulay said.

“So we’re waiting for any Filipino who want to come home from Wuhan. I just need to make sure it is in Hubei in Wuhan because that’s the area on lockdown can come home,” he added.

Medical staff, two doctors and three nurses, will be provided on board the chartered flight to assess the passengers.

“The crew won’t get off the plane. The passengers will board, and then the plane will come back here right away,” explained Health Spokesperson Eric Domingo.

“Of course, (they will be) in isolation and everybody will be wearing protective gear. They will ride a bus,” Domingo added of the process.

The medical staff will come from five hospitals just near the New Clark City namely:
-Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center
-Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando, Pampanga
-Paulino J. Garcia Memorial Research and Medical Center in Cabanatuan City
-Talavera General Hospital in Nueva Ecija
-Mental Wellness and General Hospital in Mariveles, Bataan

Meanwhile, relatives will not be allowed for a welcome party neither they are allowed to visit the repatriates at New Clark City.

However, they will be provided with means for online communication.

The New Clark City has already been placed on lockdown in preparation for the arrival of the repatriates. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

Bodies of dead OFWs from Saudi Arabia to be flown home starting Friday – DOLE

Robie de Guzman   •   July 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvester Bello III on Wednesday said that the remains of overseas Filipino workers who died in Saudi Arabia will be brought home in batches starting Friday.

Bello said the first batch will be comprised of 44 bodies of deceased OFWs – 19 of whom succumbed to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) while the others died of various causes.

The remains will arrive at the Villamor Airbase via a chartered flight on July 10.

Bello said those who died from COVID-19 will be immediately brought to a crematorium for cremation. Their ashes will then be turned over to their families.

For OFWs who died of natural causes, the labor chief said that their remains may be claimed by their relatives or sent to their respective provinces.

The second batch of OFW remains will arrive on Sunday. A total of 274 remains of OFWs will be flown home from Saudi Arabia.

Bello said the bodies will be repatriated in batches because they cannot bring them home all at once due to stringent protocols and requirements.

“Unahin muna natin yung nakumpleto ang papeles kasi ang hirap ng mga papeles dito. Meron from the Ministry of Labor, meron Ministry of Foreign Affairs nila, ospital kung saan galing yung labi. Ang pinakamahirap yung consent ng employer ang ating mga kababayan,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) assured it will extend aid to the families of deceased workers.

OWWA Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said the families of both active and inactive members of the agency will receive financial assistance.

“Bereavement financial assistance at a minimum for inactive OWWA members and then there is an additional death and burial benefit for the active OWWA member in addition to other related benefits like livelihood. But there will be a minimun financial basic assistance for all,” Cacdac said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Mon Jocson/Jaycel Valera)

China says willing to join arms treaty if U.S. reduces its nuclear arsenal

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

If the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiation with the U.S and Russia, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday (July 8).

The U.S. has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the U.S. and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the trilateral negotiation. (Reuters)

(Production: Martin Pollard, Wang Shubing)

Heavy security as China opens national security office in Hong Kong

UNTV News   •   July 8, 2020

A special office to oversee national security in Hong Kong officially commenced operations on Wednesday (July 8) amidst heavy security.

The Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government, charged with overseeing implementation of the controversial new national security law for Hong Kong, held a ceremony in the early hours of the morning.

The new law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison, heralding a more authoritarian era for China’s freest city.

There was a heavy police presence outside the Metropark Hotel in Hong Kong, which will serve as the temporary headquarters of the new office. Police had erected water barriers and put in place crowd control measures overnight, restricting residents and foreign media from observing the ceremony.

Residents in the area expressed surprise about the rapid speed of opening in the new office, and the apparent lack of advance notice to the community.

“Everything that they have organized is quite secret”, said one resident, a 62-year-old interior designer giving his name as John Lee. “They have to let the citizens be informed earlier.”

The Metropark Hotel in Causeway Bay is located opposite Victoria Park, home of the annual candlelight rallies in memory of China’s bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy crackdown. (Reuters)

(Production: Aleksander Solum)

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