Senator reiterates call to bring Filipinos home from China

Jove Moya

SENATOR Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan has reiterated his call to evacuate overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in China, as other countries intensified their efforts to contain the novel coronavirus (nCov).

Pangilinan said he hoped the government can evacuate Filipino workers in China while following specific protocols and safety precautions.

The senator noted that other countries have started evacuating their citizens from Wuhan, sending chartered flights and asking permission from the Chinese authorities.

“The US, Japan, South Korea, Britain, Spain, France, and Australia are all evacuating their people from the ground zero of the epidemic. But our government wants our OFWs to remain there, saying they don’t want to infect Filipinos here. How come it has, until the last minute, allowed Chinese from Wuhan to enter the country freely,” Pangilinan said.

“Let us take our OFWs home because we take care of our own,” he added.

According to Philippine Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Romana, Wuhan is a transport hub that hosts some 150 Filipinos, including students, teachers, domestic workers, and factory workers.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin III has instructed the Philippine consulate general in Shanghai to start the repatriation process for Filipinos in Hubei province who want to return home.

Pangilinan condemned the government for imposing a travel ban only after the country confirmed its first case of the 2019-nCoV.

“We’re afraid this is a little too late. We already have one case of 2019-nCoV, and over 50 under investigation. We are disappointed with how late this travel ban has been made,” Pangilinan said.

“Now we have to be more vigilant to ensure that we contain its spread. Metro Manila is a densely populated metropolis- our people go through bustling crowds every single day. Public transportation, schools, the market. An outbreak here would challenge the capacity of our hospitals that are already also over-crowded,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)