Some 115 Filipinos in Sri Lanka have expressed intention to return to the Philippines amid the economic crisis in the South Asian country, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Eduardo de Vega said Wednesday.
"Sa 700 na Pilipino doon, may lagpas 100, mga 115 more or less ngayon, ang nagparinig na na gustong umuwi ng Pilipinas dahil mahirap ang buhay, kaya ginagawan natin ng paraan ngayon," De Vega he said in a radio interview.
(Of the 700 Filipinos in Sri Lanka, more or less 115 have expressed intention to go home to the Philippines because life is hard there, and we are now working on that.)
De Vega, who is the undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs, said the Philippine government will shoulder the airfare for the commercial flights of the Filipinos who will be repatriated.
Filipinos may bring their children who were born in Sri Lanka with them, but their Sri Lankan spouses are not covered by the repatriation program, he added.
According to De Vega, concerned Pinoys might be able to return home by the end of July.
"Ang gusto namin bago matapos ang July may nakauwi na [We want repatration to start before July ends]," he said.
Repatriated Filipinos will undergo reintegration program and receive assistance from the government, De Vega said.
In a separate interview at the Laging Handa public briefing, De Vega said the DFA is facing problems in sending financial assistance to affected Pinoys due to some regulations in Sri Lanka.
“Ang problema po, hindi basta-basta ngayon makapasok ng pera sa Sri Lanka kasi may mga hakbang 'yung pamahalaan because of inflation or other regulations,” he said.
(The problem is that sending money to Sri Lanka is not easy because the government has implemented some actions because of inflation and other regulations.)
According to him, Filipinos who will stay in Sri Lanka will receive cash assistance from the Philippine government.
De Vega called on Filipinos in Sri Lanka not to participate in protests for their safety. He said some Filipinos reportedly joined rallies amid the economic crisis.
So far, no Filipinos were reported injured in these protests, he added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised Alert Level 2 (restriction phase) for Filipinos in Sri Lanka, which has been rocked by mass protests due to the ongoing economic crisis.
Under Alert Level 2, there will be no new deployment of overseas Filipino workers and only those with existing employment contracts are allowed to return to the country. —KBK/KG, GMA News