MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday night, March 1, welcomed 13 Filipinos repatriated from war-torn Ukraine.
The Filipinos arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila around 10 pm, bringing the total number of repatriated Filipinos to 19. Six were repatriated on February 18.
The DFA said the group was part of some 40 evacuees who left the capital Kyiv for Lviv, a city nearer to the Polish border.
On February 27, Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. welcomed some of the evacuees on board a bus at the Rava-Ruska-Hrebenne Border Crossing Station in Poland.
Locsin had traveled to Poland, which agreed to allow the visa-free entry of Filipinos fleeing conflict in Ukraine.
The group of 13 was billeted in a hotel in Warsaw while Philippine officials took care of their travel documents before flying to Manila. The Philippine government shouldered all their expenses, including food, accommodation, and an RT-PCR COVID-19 test.
Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Arriola said the repatriates included a baby and three students who fled Ukraine as the country was invaded by Russia.
“The world knows and will long remember the rescue of our people by ourselves and our true friends abroad, their respective governments and in their private capacities – all reaching out to take our people out of harm’s way even as bullets flew and bombs fell,” Locsin said in a tweet.
Philippine diplomatic officials previously reported the various reasons some Filipinos decided to stay in the conflict-ridden area. Before the full-blown invasion began on February 24, some clung on to jobs they had for as long as they could to be able to provide for their families.
Other Filipinos made the difficult decision to stay with their Ukrainian husbands to keep their families together, as Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 were prohibited from leaving the country when President Volodymyr Zelenskiy declared martial law.
On Monday, February 28, the Philippines denounced what it called an “invasion of Ukraine,” voting to support a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s actions against its neighboring country.
Earlier, the Phlippines had called on parties involved to “reaffirm by more than words” their commitment to the peaceful resolution of international disputes. It had said that its “chief concern” was the safety of the estimated 300 Filipinos in Ukraine. – Rappler.com