Foreign spouses of Filipino repatriates from China's virus capital also coming to PH

Michael Delizo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 08 2020 03:38 PM

Travelers wear face masks as a precaution against the 2019-nCoV at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 arrival area, Feb. 04, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Spouses of Filipino repatriates in China will also be welcomed by the Philippine government, a Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) official said Saturday.

At least 56 people, including 7 spouses and 4 infants, are set to be flown out of Wuhan, the central city at the heart of China's coronavirus crisis.

"Ito po ay iba-ibang nationality ang kasama dito. Mayroon po dito na Chinese. Mayroon pong sinabi sa amin na British. ’Yon po ay isasama natin sa repatriation,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Civilian Security and Consular Concerns Brigido Dulay told ABS-CBN News.

(They are of different nationalities. There's a Chinese one. We're also told there's a British one. They will be included in the repatriation.)

The Philippine government will also shoulder the foreign spouses' flights, he said.

"Sagot natin sila kasama ng iba nating kababayan na isinama din ng ibang bansa sa kanilang pag-repatriate," he said.

(We will pay for their flight just like what other countries also did with our compatriots.)

The DFA said there were around 300 Filipinos in Hubei province, the epicenter of the virus outbreak. Among them, some 150 live in Wuhan city, where the 2019 Novel Coronavirus acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD) first emerged last year.

The Filipinos and their spouses are scheduled to depart China on Saturday night and are expected to arrive at the Clark International Airport on Sunday morning.

They will be brought to the Athletes' Village in New Clark City in Tarlac for a 14-day quarantine period.

Dulay also allayed fears of those living near the quarantine area.

"Unang-una, malayo naman ’yong Athletes' Village na paglalagyan doon sa kabayanan ng Capas. Pangalawa, inayos na po ng task force ng ating pamahalaan ’yong paglulugaran at biyahe ng mga ire-repatriate. Ito ay may sinusundan ding quarantine protocols," he said.

(First of all, the Athletes' Village is far from downtown Capas. Secondly, the task force secured the living quarters and flight of the repatriates. We are following quarantine protocols.)

Capas, Tarlac mayor Reynaldo Catacutan earlier expressed concerns over the plan to use the Athletes’ Village as a quarantine site.

"We acknowledge that the Bases Conversion and Development Authority has full jurisdiction over NCC, but I, as the Mayor of Capas, appeal in behalf of all Capaseños to our dear President Rodrigo Duterte and DOH Secretary Francisco Duque to consider another place or facility as isolation area," he said.

The Bureau of Immigration (BI), on its part, said the repatriates and their spouses will undergo stringent screening.

"We're going to process all the necessary immigration arrival formalities. 'Yong passport, dadalhin sa'min in a sanitized bag, and then, of course, we have all the protection as well. We have gloves, masks, mayroon din kaming mga ipa-process na mga... kung kailangan, is visas," BI port operations division chief Grifton Medina told DZMM.

(We're going to process all the necessary immigration arrival formalities. Their passports will be brought to us in sanitized bags, and then, of course, we have all the protection as well. We have gloves, masks, we will process visas if necessary.)

Airport personnel, he said, would not have any interaction with the repatriates.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III also said the repatriates would receive financial assistance. Those who will opt to stay in the country for good will get livelihood assistance and scholarships for their children.