Presidential bets call for OFWs' safety amid Ukraine-Russia war

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2022 07:30 PM

Heavy traffic is seen on a road heading out of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, as Russian military operation begins, in Ukraine, February 24, 2022 in this screen grab taken from a live video. Reuters TV/via Reuters
Heavy traffic is seen on a road heading out of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, as Russian military operation begins, in Ukraine, February 24, 2022 in this screen grab taken from a live video. Reuters TV/via Reuters


MANILA — Several Philippine presidential candidates on Thursday called for the safety of Filipinos in Ukraine, which has been invaded by neighboring Russia.

Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippine government must focus on ensuring the safety of Filipinos amid the dangerous situation in Ukraine.

"Dapat tutukan kasi anytime now pwedeng mag-shift yung conditions na okay ngayon, tapos in a few days hindi na. So kailangan talaga iyong mga plano kung saan sila dadalhin ay maayos na," she said.

Robredo said the escalating tension is concerning even if Filipinos there feel safe.

Few Filipinos wanted to be repatriated for fear of losing their jobs.

"Cause of concern ito kasi I think it was 2-3 weeks ago na sinabi ko na siguraduhin na iyong safety nung 320 plus na mga Pilipinong nandun. Pero iyong latest na balita natin nag-offer na iyong DFA na i-repatriate sila, konti lang 'yung gustong umuwi," she said.

Robredo said Filipinos at home must also be prepared for other problems that may arise out of the war.

"Kailangan din nating paghandaan kung ano iyong epekto nito, halimbawa ... iyong world prices ng langis. Marami tayong ibang produkto na iyon 'yung natural na consequence ng meron ganitong upheaval," she said.

"We continue to assess the situation very, very closely pero number one talaga iyong kaligtasan ng mga Pinoy doon."

Sen. Manny Pacquiao said in a statement that he's praying for the immediate de-escalation of the conflict between the two neighboring nations.

He also called on Filipinos in Ukraine to evacuate.

"Napakahalaga ng panalangin sa panahong ito dahil tila hindi na malaman ng tao kung ano ang tama at makatarungan dahil sa kasakiman at kawalan ng respeto sa kapwa. Ako ay nakikiusap sa ating mga kababayan na ngayon pa lang ay lumikas na upang hindi maipit sa nagbabantang digmaan at mabawasan ang alalahanin ng ating pamahalaan at ng kanilang mga mahal sa buhay," he said.

"Sa ngayon ay wala tayong magagawa kundi magmasid sa mga nangyayari at makiisa sa anumang pagsisikap para maresolba ng mapayapa ang sitwasyon sa Ukraine."

Pacquiao also called on Philippine government agencies to ensure Filipinos' safety in Ukraine.

"Hinihimok ko ang mga ahensiya ng pamahalaan na tiyakin na magagamit at available sa nasa 300 OFW in distress sa Ukraine ang OFW Handbook para sa kanilang kaligtasan," he said.

Leody de Guzman, meanwhile, said the Philippines must not side with either party and should focus on evacuating OFWs safely.

"Kailangan silang isalba sa kapahamakan at bantayan ang posibleng pagsirit sa presyo ng langis. Gamitin ang Section 14 ng Oil Deregulation Law para sa kontrol at regulasyon ng industriya dulot ng emergency situation," he said.

Russia earlier Thursday launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and is targeting cities with weapons strikes, Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a tweet.

Ukrainian officials said Russia was primarily targeting military infrastructure and silos, managing to push five kilometers deep along the northern frontier.

Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Cacdac has said that they have started relocating OFWs in Ukraine and "there have been at least 3 batches that had been moved to an area that is around 400 km from Kyiv, the political capital where most Filipinos are."

—With a report from Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

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