16 Filipino seafarers stranded in China for months return to PH
MANILA, Philippines — Sixteen Filipino seafarers stranded in China for months finally returned to the Philippines on Tuesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Three land-based overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) also joined the repatriation, the DFA said in a statement.
“Despite existing restrictions on the disembarkation of seafarers in China and the difficult conditions under which this special flight was mounted, the Department of Foreign Affairs remains committed to its promise of bringing our kabayan seafarers home,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said.
The plane carrying the 16 Filipinos landed at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport from China at 1:30 a.m. on Tuesday, said the DFA.
According to the DFA, 11 of the 16 Filipino seafarers are from the cargo ship Ocean Star 86. They have been stranded in China’s Dongshan since March 2020.
Meanwhile, the other five seafarers on board M/V Maria P. have been stranded in the coastal city of Ningde since July 2020.
“Both are Chinese fishing vessels which were affected by China’s “no disembarkation” policy as a precautionary measure due to the pandemic and the unavailability of commercial flights,” the DFA noted.
Arriola said “months of negotiation” with the Chinese government took place before the Filipinos were repatriated.
She said the Philippine Consulate General in Xiamen and the Philippine Embassy in Beijing worked closely with the Chinese authorities to allow the disembarkation of seafarers and the mounting of the special flight.
Prior to their departure, the Filipinos underwent RT-PCR test and were all found negative of the coronavirus. They also wore personal protective equipment as an added precaution.
Upon arrival, the seafarers were subjected to appropriate medical protocols required by the Department of Health, according to the DFA.
The repatriated Filipinos will also be undergoing mandatory quarantine in accordance with the omnibus guidelines of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases.[ac]
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