Some 317 Filipinos were able to return to Manila from Beirut via a special chartered flight on Saturday by the Office of the President and the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The two-day marathon mission included a ceremonial turnover and delivery of food supplies for the Filipino community in Lebanon through the Philippine embassy in Beirut, a ceremonial turnover and delivery of medical supplies to the Lebanese Red Cross, the Rafiq Hariri University Hospital, the Beirut General Hospital, and Lebanese NGO KAFA from the Philippine private sector.
“The twin missions demonstrate the continuing commitment of the Philippine Government to assist Filipinos who wish to return home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and other challenges, as well as the solidarity of the Filipino nation with the Lebanese people,” Malacañang said in a statement.
The fly-in-fly-out mission was undertaken upon the instructions of President Rodrigo Duterte following his address to the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
During the UNGA High-Level General Debate, President Duterte noted that “Filipino migrant workers have been devastated by the pandemic” and yet “they go on in the frontlines, healing, caring for others in the different parts of the world.”
The President announced during the UNGA High-Level General Debate that the Philippine government “embarked on an unprecedented repatriation program” to include more than 345,000 overseas Filipino workers.
The mission, led by Presidential Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje, is the fifth chartered repatriation flight from Lebanon since June 2020 and the second since the Beirut explosion in August 2020.
Malacañang said at least 2,596 Filipinos in Lebanon have so far been repatriated by the government since December 2019.
The Philippine government has repatriated a total of 193,429 Filipinos since February 2020. (PNA)