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Pinoy Abroad

24 Filipinos repatriated from Turkey set to arrive in PH

Twenty-four Filipinos repatriated from Turkey following the big earthquake last month are expected to arrive in the Philippines on Wednesday, an official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

"Beinte-kuwatro po sila. Ito 'yung second batch na na nire-repatriate natin. Last time, last week, may dumating na beinte-singko. Mga mothers and kids ito. Lahat gastos ng DFA po," DFA Undersecretary Eduardo Jose de Vega said in an interview on Unang Balita.

(These 24 comprise the second batch of those we repatriated. Last time, last week, there were 25 who arrived. This [second] batch are mothers and kids.)

"Masayang masaya na sila at pauwi na sila. Proud Filipinos po," he added, saying they boarded a plane from Ankara then made a stopover in Istanbul from where the interview was done online.

(They are very happy that they are on the way home. They are proud Filipinos.)

De Vega is accompanying the group on the way home. Philippine Ambassador to Turkey Maria Elena Algabre and Consul General Shirlene Mananquil met the group in Istanbul during their stopover.

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit Turkey on February 6, causing around 46,000 deaths in Turkey and 6,000 in Syria.

De Vega said some of the repatriated Pinoys arriving on Wednesday are from Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon, and will be fetched by their relatives.

Some however are from Samar or Cebu and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will assist in bringing their home.

Paulina, one of the repatriates, said she has not gone home to her hometown in Gapan, Nueva Ecija since 1991. 

"Napakasaya po dahil sa loob ng 32 years ay hindi ako nakauwi. Sa pagkakataong ito ay tinulungan kami ng embahada na makauwi. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa kanila nang marami," she said of her coming home.

(I am very happy because I have not gone back [to the Philippines] in 32 years. So I am very grateful that the embassy assisted us so we could go home.)

Paulina said they are still fearful of the aftershocks due to the massive earthquake.

"Hanggang ngayon po ay parang nililindol pa rin kami. 'Yon ang nararamdaman namin," she said.

(Up to now we feel as if the earthquake is still happening. That is what we feel.)

Twenty-five Filipinos affected by the February 6 earthquake in Turkey and Syria were repatriated last month.

De Vega said the repatriates were initially given $200 financial assistance and will be given further assistance through the reintegration program under the Department of Migrant Workers and OWWA.

The DFA official said there would be another batch of Filipino repatriates.

There were 102 Filipinos who stayed at a shelter — a dormitory — rented by the DFA in Turkey, he said.

With some of them repatriated, 78 Filipinos remain in the shelter, De Vega said.

"Hindi naman lahat gusto umuwi. Pero 'yung gustong umuwi, ire-repatriate natin," he said.

(Not everyone wants to go home. Those who want to go home will be repatriated.)

De Vega said the Philippine government is also coordinating with Turkish authorities.

He in fact had talks with Turkish ministers to ensure that Filipinos who will remain in Turkey — those who are legal residents, permanent residents or Turkish citizens already — will be given financial and housing assistance as promised by the Turkish government. —KG, GMA Integrated News