DFA Brings Home Distressed, Stranded Filipinos from Cambodia via Chartered Flight 

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Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh Chargé d’Affaires (CDA), a.i. Myca Fischer (center) sends off the Filipino repatriates at the airport (Phnom Penh PE photo)

PASAY CITY 18 April 2020 — The global lockdown and economic slowdown brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting our Filipinos overseas. Among them was Mr. Miguelito Dela Cruz, an OFW in Cambodia who sought the assistance of the Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh when he was asked to vacate their staff house due to the forced closure of the casino he was working in. The Embassy made representations with the casino owner to allow them to stay in the staff house until alternative arrangements and repatriation could be arranged.

Mr. Dela Cruz was one of the 167 distressed OFWs in Cambodia who requested to return to the Philippines after suffering from job loss, forced unpaid leaves, no-work-no-pay arrangements or loss of income brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of them had visa-related concerns while others were stranded due to flight cancellations while on tour in Cambodia.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), through its Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh, came to their rescue by chartering AirAsia flight Z2 8162 that safely landed at NAIA-Terminal 1 at 3:27 p.m. today. This is the first repatriation flight in the Southeast Asian region that is fully funded by the DFA’s Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) Fund.

Mr. Dela Cruz, along with five other Filipino casino workers, traveled for seven hours from the northwestern province of Oddar Meanchey to Phnom Penh, where they took the chartered flight to Manila today. "In behalf sa mga kasamahan ko, nagpapasalamat kami sa Philippine Embassy Phnom Penh sa tulong. Hindi namin malilimutan ito lalong lalo na ito ang unang una na repatriation ng South East Asia. Thank you so much and God Bless us all”, he said.

Upon arrival in Manila, the repatriated Filipinos underwent the appropriate medical protocols as required by the Department of Health (DOH).

The successful repatriation is a testament to the DFA’s commitment to extending assistance to overseas Filipinos and their families who wish to return home and reunite with their families in this time of global health crisis. END

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 Mr. Dela Cruz (in red) poses with Master Sgt. Marlon Batoon (Assistant to the Defense Attaché) and other repatriates before entering the airport in Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Phnom Penh PE photo)

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(Photos by DFA-OUMWA and Philippine Embassy in Phnom Penh)