PH embassies raise ‘state of readiness’ as US braces for Irma
Philippine embassies in Washington and Mexico have been placed on a “higher state of readiness” as Hurricane Irma threatens to hit the United States, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
DFA said it would allow the two embassies to “immediately come to the rescue of Filipinos in the United States and the Caribbean who may be impacted by Hurricane Irma.”
“We have seen how powerful and destructive Hurricane Irma is,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement following reports that the category 5 hurricane devastated several Caribbean islands. “We should not be taking any chances and should be ready to assist our nationals who may get caught in the middle of this storm.”
Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall in Florida, which is home to 150,000 Filipino nationals.
Cayetano reportedly ordered Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and Ambassador Eduardo De Vega of the Philippine Embassy in Mexico to deploy teams in hurricane-affected areas in case they need to assist Filipino nationals.
The DFA is still waiting for reports on how Filipino nationals were coping with the devastation in the Caribbean after the hurricane struck the islands of Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Barthelemy, and St. Martin, killing at least nine people.
According to the Philippine Embassy in Washington, there are 72 Filipinos in Anguilla; 32 in Antigua and Barbuda; and 264 in the British Virgin Islands.
The agency is particularly concerned with the islands of Turks and Caicos, which host 2,327 Filipinos, the largest in the Caribbean. The islands are bracing for the possibility of a storm surge, which can reach as high as 20 feet./ac