Around 100 stranded Filipinos in China want to come home

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 24) — Around 100 Filipinos in China, mostly seafarers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, are seeking repatriation, an official said on Saturday.

Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana said in a briefing that some seafarers have been stuck in ports for weeks, after China prevented them from leaving their ships for fear of importing coronavirus cases.

“They are off the ports of China. Kasi nag-iingat ang China against imported cases. At saka ang patakaran dito ay huwag pababain sa barko ang mga nag-iintay na dayuhang seaman,” Sta. Romana said in a briefing.

[Translation: China is exercising caution against imported cases. And the policy here is not to let foreign seafarers disembark from their ships.]

Sta. Romana said consulates are now preparing for the evacuation flight, adding that the overseas workers could be brought home in mid-November at the latest.

Meanwhile, the ambassador said the Department of Labor and Employment is arranging two chartered flights for around 300 overseas Filipino workers stranded in Manila who want to go back to their jobs in China.

Sta. Romana said the OFWs were unable to leave the country due to limited and costly flights, adding that authorities are now working on getting clearance to fly from Chinese authorities.