MANILA — Filipinos in Afghanistan are advised to prepare to leave when opportunity comes, the Department of Foreign Affairs said Thursday, as the future of the Middle Eastern country under Taliban rule remained bleak.
The DFA said the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan is in touch with all Filipinos in Afghanistan who have given their contact details, and advised everyone “to remain ready to move when opportunities to leave arise.”
“The embassy in Islamabad is in touch with all Filipinos who have contact details,” Assistant Secretary Eduardo Meñez of the DFA Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy (OPCD) said in a message to reporters.
Earlier in the day, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Hans Leo Cacdac said the DFA is already working on a second repatriation flight for Filipinos who are still in Afghanistan.
Meñez, meanwhile, said a report by Police Files Tonite about a supposed chartered Philippine Airlines flight that “has not yet been able to fly to Afghanistan" is "misleading".
The headline of the paper read: “Eroplanong susundo sa 80 Pinoy sa Afghanistan ‘di nakalapag!”
(A plane to fetch 80 Filipinos in Afghanistan fails to land.)
“Just to address the somewhat misleading banner from Police Files Tonite - PAL has not yet been able to fly to Afghanistan, but we are also coordinating with all flights allowed to fly out of Kabul,” Meñez said.
On Wednesday, the DFA urged Filipinos remaining in Afghanistan to register their intent to be repatriated out of the country "immediately."
The DFA earlier issued Alert Level 4 in Afghanistan over the weekend after the Taliban captured key cities, including Kabul. Under the alert level, the Philippines will undertake mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos in the area.
There were an estimated 132 Filipinos there at the time of the crisis.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said Filipinos working in Afghanistan are considered "undocumented" because the Philippines has no existing labor agreement with the Middle Eastern country. But government will give them assistance upon return to the Philippines.
Governments from all around the globe are scrambling to get their citizens and Afghans who worked with them out of the country since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan on Sunday.
— Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News