DFA: Filipinos can still get free repatriation flights

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MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Wednesday that the free repatriation flight offer of the Philippine government for Filipinos in Ukraine is still on the table despite the escalating tensions in the region.

Currently, there are over 300 Filipinos living in Ukraine.

“Our chief and singular concern is to take out of harm’s way our fellow Filipinos in Ukraine and bringing them to the nearest places of safety by the fastest possible way,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said in a statement.

“Our offer to take Filipinos in Kiev is underway and Usec. Sarah Arriola is spearheading the repatriation effort for Filipinos who want to come home,” he added. Arriola is the undersecretary for the migrant workers’ affairs office at the DFA.

The DFA has repatriated six Filipinos from the European nation, as of February 18.

The Philippine Embassy in Warsaw, which has jurisdiction over Ukraine, deployed a consular team to Kyiv last week in order to enable faster coordination with the Filipino community and relevant authorities.

The statement of DFA comes as tensions in the region escalate following President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that Russia would officially recognize some areas of Ukraine’s eastern Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement provided by his spokesperson that Moscow’s decision is “a violation of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations”.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Moscow is ready to help Filipinos who wish to enter Russia from Ukraine.

“As part of our normal job here at the Embassy, we stand ready to provide assistance to Filipinos who seek to enter Russia on humanitarian or emergency grounds in coordination with the Russian Federation authorities, which is our normal mandate,” it said in a February 22 statement.

“[W]e note that Russia and the Philippines are both members of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which espouses and promotes the safe and orderly movement of people, (and) safe and orderly migration across boundaries,” it added.

However, it advised all Filipinos planning to travel near Russia’s and Ukraine’s borders, particularly Russian cities Rostov-on-Don, Belgorod, and Kursk, to remain vigilant and monitor advisories from the embassy and Russian government authorities.

According to the DFA, Filipinos can contact the Philippine Embassy in Poland via +48 604 357 396 (WhatsApp and Viber), +48 694 491 663 (Assistance to Nationals), and warsaw.pe@dfa.gov.ph.

On the other hand, the Philippine Embassy in Russia may be reached through +79067382538 (WhatsApp and Viber).

House committees to hold hearings during break

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Spread the loveMANILA – The House of Representatives has authorized for its committees to conduct hearings during the five-week congressional break, extending until late April.