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Philippines to stop airport transport arrangements for stranded foreigners on March 28


Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the Philippine government will stop helping foreign governments transport their citizens through quarantine checkpoints to Manila’s international airport by Saturday.

"I will announce to the foreign embassies that tomorrow is the last day we do humanitarian missions to take foreign tourists to our international airports where they can take sweeper flights organised and paid for by their governments," Locsin said on Twitter.

With the Philippine government "stretched so thin" to provide assistance, Locsin said their governments should "assume the main burden of collecting them for sweeper flights out."

"We are exhausted and have done more than expected," Locsin said.

"We will stay steadfast in our shared aim to get those out who want to go but the main burden will have to be born by their embassies and home governments."

The DFA, however, will still help "gather the stragglers, talk to restrictive local governments to let them go through quarantines," and "give whatever help we can extend."

"We're stretched so thin. I hope you understand," Locsin said. "Of course if I can I will rustle up rich friends to help get them out but my friendships are wearing thin; my friends have their own problems."

Locsin commended the Philippine military for picking up stragglers to fill up the flights despite being "at the end of the tether."

Foreigners, he said, can still leave the country anytime and will not be penalized for exceeding their visas.

Due to global travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus disease or Covid-19 pandemic, flights going in and out of Manila are getting scarce.

The Philippines is on an enhanced community quarantine since March 15 and has banned the entry of most foreign nationals due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Since then, the government has extended assistance to foreign tourists and travelers who wanted to fly out of the country, arranging sweeper flights from different parts of the country to take them to Manila. -NB, GMA News

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