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32 Filipino crew members of stranded fishing vessels Long Xing 905, 906, and 907 arrived on Saturday

Additional 13,320 overseas Filipinos repatriated before Christmas
Cristina Eloisa Baclig - December 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday said 13,320 more overseas Filipinos were brought home last week. This brings to a total of 314,158 repatriated Filipinos since the start of COVID-19 related repatriations in February.

According to DFA, 64 special commercial repatriation flights were facilitated last week. Included in the bulk of returning overseas Filipinos were 74 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the island Diego Garcia, 33 OFWs and a minor from Cambodia, and 21 trafficking-in-persons victims from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Also among the repatriates were nine undocumented OFWs from Iraq, four OFWs and two minor children from Guangzhou, China, two medical repatriates from Oman, two undocumented OFWs from Vietnam, one household service worker from Iran, and a stranded seafarer from the Bahamas.

Aside from the overseas Filipinos, 32 Filipino crew members of stranded fishing vessels Long Xing 905, 906, and 907 arrived on Saturday. DFA said the ships were stuck in sea off the Marshall Islands after the ship owner, Dalian Ocean Fishing Company Limited, decided to stop paying the crews’ salaries and failed to give money to refuel the ships.

“The DFA, through its Office for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and its Philippine Embassies in Australia, New Zealand and China lobbied hard with the authorities in Vanuatu, Marshall Islands and China, including with the Chinese Embassy in Manila,” DFA said in a statement.

“This led the ship owner to make arrangements for the salaries of the crew and to refuel the ships to be able to return to port in Dalian, China,” it added.

DFA assured that it is strengthening its efforts to repatriate and assist overseas Filipinos who are affected by the pandemic.