MANILA - At least 31 Filipinos working in Myanmar will be repatriated to the Philippines on June 27, Ambassador to Myanmar Eduardo Kapunan Jr. said on Wednesday.
While the political situation in Myanmar is not as worse as in previous months, several Filipinos have to go home due to the COVID-19 situation in the southeast Asian country, Kapunan told state television PTV.
"Kapag nagra-rally po ang mga tao, wala na pong social distancing so we are expecting that it (COVID-19 cases) would rise," he said.
(When people go out to protest, social distancing is not observed so we are expecting that it would rise.)
"Now there seems to be a spike of COVID-19 in Myanmar. Dahil dito nawawalan na sila ng trabaho. Kung wala na silang trabaho, the choice is to go home," he said.
(Because of this they lose their jobs. If they have no jobs, the choice is to go home.)
There are about 600 Filipinos who are still in Myanmar, Kapunan said.
"Itong mga Pilipinong ito, wala kaming nakikitaan na may problema pa," he said.
(We don't see any problem with these Filipinos.)
"It means they don't see any much concern about the situation except the rising of COVID situation now going on in Myanmar," he said.
So far, repatriated Filipinos are still disallowed to return to Myanmar, the ambassador said.
"Hangga't hindi bumababa sa alert level 2, hindi puwedeng bumalik ang mga Pilipino sa Myanmar because the threat of COVID is still there," he said.
(While the alert level is not yet reduced to level 2, Filipinos are not allowed to go back to Myanmar because the threat of COVID is still there.)
As of June 15, there were 146,051 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Myanmar, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Of these cases, 3,248 died, the WHO said.
As of May 12, Myanmar has administered a total of 2,994,900 COVID-19 vaccine doses.
So far, around 800 people in Myanmar have died of gunshots wounds, while 4,000 others are in detention amid the unrest in the country, Kapunan said.
"Warrant of arrest issuance is going on almost daily... It is internal but it affects the world as [far as] humanity [is concerned]," he said.
"Ang mga Pilipino inaadvisan po namin na wag sumama sa mga protesta para hindi po sila madamay sa kaguluhan," the ambassador said.
(We are advising Filipinos not to join protests here.)
"They are fully briefed, they are fully aware. Before decisions are made by the Embassy in Myanmar, nagkakaroon kami ng (we hold) town hall meeting through video and they are consulted about our next move, activity, or policy," he said.
Myanmar has been in a state of turmoil since February 2021 after the military staged a coup and detained democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi for allegedly rigging the recent elections.
In March, the Philippines joined other nations in calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi while thousands of people in Myanmar trooped to streets to protest the military's takeover.