OFW joins US military flight out of Afghanistan, shares interaction with Taliban
MANILA, Philippines — An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was able to join a United States military flight to leave Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country’s capital Kabul.
“Nakisakay na lang po kami doon. Ni-line-up po kami ng mga U.S. personnel pagdating po namin sa HKIA (Hamid Karzai International Airport) sa military flight, ‘di po sa commercial,” Elmer Presa told Teleradyo on Thursday.
(We just joined them. U.S. personnel lined us up when we reached HKIA, we joined the military flight, not the commercials ones.)
“Sa commercial ubod nang gulo po. Napakarami pong local na mga tao po na nandun, lahat nagpupumilit na makalabasng bansa,’ he added.
(There was chaos with the commercial flights. There are a lot of local residents there, all of them want to leave the country.)
Presa works as a deputy kennel master for a company offering security services. He said he manages K-9 teams which are deployed in national airports in Afghanistan, United Nation mission and diplomatic projects, among others.
Presa is now in Doha, Qatar waiting for a flight to the Philippines.
He also shared his interaction with Taliban fighters, who allowed him to retrieve several Filipinos trapped near the Swedish and U.S. embassies in Afghanistan.
According to him, he volunteered to fetch some Filipinos stranded near the said embassies.
“Nung nag-start po kami ng mobilization, may mga naipit po sa lugar ng Sweden Embassy at saka U.S. embassy, wala na po tayong driver na naglakas loob na kunin po sila,” he said.
(When we started our mobilization, there were Filipinos who got stranded near the Sweden Embassy and the U.S. Embassy, no more drivers dared to fetch them.)
“Sabi ko sa aking boss, ‘I will take risk to get my guys.’ So binigyan po ako ng pahintulot…Nakiusap po ako sa mga Taliban na sila na po kasi nagko-conduct ng checkpoints…sabi ko po ay meron akong kukuning kababayan natin, binigyan naman po ako ng pagkakataon, kaya malaya po akong nakilos hanggang sa na-retrieve ko po yung tropa nating Pilipino,” he added.
(I told my boss, ‘I will take risks to get my guys.’ So I was given permission…I appealed to the Taliban members manning the checkpoints…I said I need to fetch some of my fellow Filipinos, they allowed me so I was able to freely retrieve my countrymen.)
He said they continue to coordinate with the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan about their situation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said it is “exhausting all avenues” to ensure the safety and eventual evacuation of Filipinos still in Afghanistan.
Some Filipinos were already able to leave Afghanistan with the help of their foreign employers, according to the DFA.
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