Syria assures PH of Filipinos’ safety
The Syrian government assures the Philippines that Filipinos in the strife-torn nation are safe, as Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario returns to Damascus

MANILA, Philippines – The Syrian government assured the Philippines that Filipinos in the strife-torn nation are safe, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario returned to Damascus on Saturday, December 22.

Del Rosario was in the Syrian capital to check on the ongoing repatriation efforts for Filipinos wanting to leave the said country. The Philippines wants to intensify its repatriation efforts in anticipation of more violence, particularly in and around Damascus.

The secretary, accompanied by Undersecretaries Jesus Yabes and Rafael Seguis, went to Syria and met with officials from the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, led by Ambassador Hamzeh Dawalibi and Ambassador Majd Aldeen Nashed.

The DFA said Del Rosario secured the Syrian officials’ continued support in keeping Filipinos out of harm’s way.

Del Rosario also spoke with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem and Philippine Honorary Consul in Aleppo Wassim Nanaa regarding Filipinos’ safety in the war zones.

Aside from meeting with the Syrian officials, the diplomats also met with 103 OFWs housed in the Embassy’s halfway house in the city. The exit visa fees and penalties of the repatriates will be waived by the Syrian government, Del Rosario said.

They also had a meeting with officials from the Philippine Embassy in Damascus, as well as members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT), and checked the conditions of the proposed safehouses and relocation centers for OFWs in the city’s suburbs, the DFA added.

“This safe house is being proposed as part of the Embassy’s Contingency Plan in view of the increasing frequency of fighting in the capital,” the department said.

Prior to their visit in Syria, the Filipino diplomats were in Lebanon, where they monitored the condition of 35 Filipino workers housed in a Caritas shelter in Beirut. The said OFWs were sent home to the Philippines on Saturday, with the assistance of the Caritas.

More than 3,000 Filipinos have been repatriated from the strife-torn country since violence broke out last year. –