Business Mirror : Ensure safety of Filipinos in Ukraine – BBM

26 February 2022

By Business Mirror

PARTIDO Federal ng Pilipinas (PFP) standard-bearer Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. called on the government on Saturday to ensure the safety of Filipinos in war-torn Ukraine following Russia’s attack on its cities including the capital Kyiv.

“We have to get our countrymen there out of harm’s way. Let’s not wait for the aggression to escalate further. The DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) should speed up the mass repatriation while we can still do so, especially with Russian forces allegedly targeting civilian areas, he said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., who was attending a conference in France when the war broke, had tweeted he was going to Poland to oversee the efforts there (there’s no embassy in Ukraine, and the post in Poland had jurisdiction over the Filipinos in Ukraine).

On Friday afternoon, 39 Filipinos, including an infant, were evacuated from capital Kyiv and arrived in the western city of Lviv late afternoon, the DFA said.

DFA Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola said Philippine Ambassador to Poland Leah Basinag-Ruiz welcomed the Filipino repatriates in Lviv.

A team from the Philippine Embassy fetched the 37 Filipino workers from Kyiv and boarded them on a bus.

“They travelled the whole day from Kyiv to the western city of Lviv,” she tweeted.

Another OFW and an infant arrived in Lviv on a separate transport.

From Lviv, the OFW repatriates are expected to be evacuated to Poland.

According to the latest count of the DFA, there are some 260 Filipinos in Ukraine.

Most of the overseas Filipino workers there are based in Kyiv.

Marcos stressed that it is now time to proceed with the crisis management mechanisms and exit strategies that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) had earlier arranged.

But he also pointed out that in-country relocation of OFWs in Ukraine away from the beleaguered capital may not be safe as attacks have been launched on different areas and that the magnitude of ongoing armed conflict is still uncertain.

Russian missiles were launched on Ukrainian cities after Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a full-scale ground invasion and air assault against the country Friday after weeks of escalating tensions in the region and sanctions imposed by Western nations.

Putin said he had “decided to conduct a special military operation” aimed at the “demilitarization and denazification” of the neighboring country.

He called on Ukraine’s forces to lay down their arms and surrender their country to Russian control and warned the U.S. and NATO not to interfere or they would face “consequences you have never seen.”