A total of 19 students from the Mindanao Islamic studies formed part of the 24 Overseas Filipino Workers as well as a family of five who escaped the endless gunfire and bombing in Sudan enroute to Egypt arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 yesterday before noon on board Saudi Airlines. The other five evacuees are the Poblete family include three children.
Mary Grace Poblete, a nurse at the International School in Sudan, said they were traumatized in Sudan as they heard everyday continuous gunfire and bombing and were afraid for their lives that they decided to join the Philippine government’s repatriation procedures.
“I don’t mind being back to the Philippines and the future we are about to face. Ang importante, makaligtas at umalis muna kami sa lugar na ito at hindi na kami babalik sa Sudan,” she said.
MIGRANT Workers Secretary Susan Ople announced that two groups of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) affected by the civil war in Sudan will be taking commercial flights via Saudia Airlines on May 3, which will be arriving in Manila on May 4.
“Our DMW (Department of Migrant Workers) and OWWA teams continue to look after our distressed OFWs as part of our commitment to bring them home in close coordination, of course, with the DFA,” Ople said. The two groups would be composed of 80 and 72 OFWs or 152 in total.
They belong to the 340 OFWs that were assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Philippine Embassy in Cairo (PE-Cairo) in crossing over from the Sudan Port into the Argeen Land Port Authority in Aswan, Egypt. OWWA Administrator Arnell Ignacio will be joining one of the groups on the flight home.
“The two commercial flights will be traveling to Manila via Jeddah and Riyadh,” Ople said.
The DMW is also negotiating with Philippine Airlines (PAL) for a chartered flight to bring the remaining 188 OFWs from the group of 340 rescued plus an anticipated 104 OFWs that would be arriving this week after successfully clearing the Egyptian border.
“For this week, we will have 152 arriving on May 4 from Egypt and another bigger batch of OFWs from Sudan coming home, hopefully via a chartered PAL flight. OWWA and the DMW are committed to bringing as many of our kababayans home, so that the process of healing from the trauma of Sudan’s civil war can commence,” Ople said.
According to the DMW secretary, PAL has a partnership with EGYPTAIR that would enable it to come up with flight arrangements from Cairo to Dubai and onward to Manila.
“Bayanihan spirit na ang umiiral dito. We, including the private sector, are all part of one team. ‘Yan ang bilin ng ating Pangulo. What truly matters is that our OFWs will be safely home soon,” Ople said.