Filipinos in Macau seek special flight to return home

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 17 2020 08:11 AM | Updated as of Feb 17 2020 08:25 AM

People wear masks as they walk near Ruins of St. Paul’s, following the coronavirus outbreak in Macau, China February 5, 2020. Tyrone Siu, Reuters

MANILA - Hundreds of Filipinos stranded in Macau are urging Philippine authorities to arrange for a special flight to bring them home, an overseas migrant worker said Monday.

Some 134 Filipinos have signed up for a petition calling on the Philippine Consulate in Macau for a chartered flight, according to Richard Tadina, who works for a medicine manufacturing company there.

"Ang hinihiling namin magkaroon ng arranged flight kahit magbayad na lang po," he told radio DZMM, adding that not everyone could afford to return to the Philippines via another route.

(We are calling for an arranged flight, we are willing to pay.)

"Maraming may anak na mas maliit pa kaysa sa akin. Imagine-in niyo ho meron kayong anak, ano bang pangangailangan ng isang sanggol 'pag na-stuck ka sa isang airport?"

(There are many Filipinos with children younger than mine. Imagine you have a baby, what are its needs in an airport?)

Philippine Consul General to Macau Lilybeth Deapera earlier said her office was coordinating with authorities in Manila to bring home the Filipinos.

Tadina also urged the consulate to coordinate with authorities in Macau on the visas of Filipinos there, some of which are about to lapse.

The Filipino worker said his wife and child arrived in Macau last December and they were set to return to Manila on Feb. 8. The Philippines, however, prohibited travel to and from China and its territories beginning Feb. 2 in a bid to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

"Ilan po sa kanila mag-overstay (Some of them will overstay) and they will be charged P3,000 ang equivalent per day," he said.

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Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello on Sunday said an inter-agency task force would meet Monday to decide whether to lift the country's travel ban on Macau.