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DFA eyes to repatriate over 50,000 more Filipinos by end-July

/ 05:58 PM July 14, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Tuesday it is eyeing to repatriate more than 50,000 overseas Filipinos by the end of July as nations continue to wrestle with the coronavirus pandemic.

During the hybrid hearing of the House committee on public accounts, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said DFA can bring home 50,577 stranded Filipinos by the end of July and cut the number of stranded Filipinos abroad to 117,049.

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Arriola said there are 53 flights coming from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and 42 flights from Saudi Arabia for the month of July after the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) allowed the entry of the said flights into the country.

For the rest of stranded Filipinos abroad, Arriola said they are eyeing to bring them home in a month and a half to two months.

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“As of last hearing, 167,626 ang stranded [Filipinos abroad]. By the end of July, we can bring home 50,577. Ang estimated na maiiwan ay 117,049 (Based on our estimate, 117,049 will remain stranded). We think we can bring them home in a month and a half or two months but of course that is, yung numbers na ‘yan will still increase if we don’t find a vaccine,” Arriola told lawmakers.

In the same hearing, Arriola bared that the DFA has so far repatriated 82,057 overseas Filipinos from over 60 countries and 132 cruise ships.

Of this number, 38,308 are sea-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) while 43,749 are land-based OFWs.

But the foreign affairs official raised concerns over DFA’s depleting budget.

According to Arriola, of the DFA’s P1 billion assistance-to-nationals fund, only 23.2 percent or P232.9 million remain.

Arriola said that with the rate of repatriation, the funds would not be enough.

“I think half of this will be used for the next two weeks and by mid-August, we will not have funds anymore,” Arriola said.

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READ: DFA: ‘Overstretched’ P1-B fund for troubled Filipinos abroad ‘will run out’ by August

“Through the generosity of Secretary [Teodoro] Locsin, he says that he’s going to realign our budget for retrofitting pero gusto din po naming sabihin na ‘yung building namin ay sobrang luma na. In fact, our facade is not that stable anymore,” she added.

(Through the generosity of Secretary [Teodoro] Locsin, he says that he’s going to realign our budget for retrofitting but I would like to say that our building is already old. In fact, our facade is not that stable anymore.)

KGA

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DFA reports 15 new COVID-19 cases among overseas Filipinos; total now at 8,869

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