MANILA – A total of 386 Filipinos, including the remains of eight deceased nationals, arrived in Manila on Monday via a chartered Qatar Airways flight from Lebanon.
It carried the remains of eight overseas Filipinos, four of whom were killed in the deadly twin explosions that rocked Beirut on August 4 and killed more than 100. The flight was the first repatriation organized by the Philippine government since the catastrophic blast.
The latest batch also included some 20 Filipinos who were wounded in the incident.
Among them is Reginald Apinardo, whose right hand is still covered in bandages when he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Apinardo, a household worker for nine years in Lebanon, said he had no plans to return to the Philippines not until the explosions happened.
“Noong nasa ospital na ako, doon ko napagdesisyunan na uuwi na talaga ako. This is my second life (When I was in the hospital, that’s when I decided I will go home. I consider this as my second life),” he said in an interview.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. personally welcomed the arriving Filipinos and vowed that a second chartered flight is being scheduled to bring more distressed nationals home.
Upon arrival, the repatriates underwent an RT-PCR test, all shouldered by the government.
They will be quarantined in a facility designated by the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) while they await the results of their swab tests. After that, they will be transported to their respective residences or provinces.
During his speech, Locsin also called on some local government units to rethink their policy of repeat swabbing for arriving OFWs.
“I ask the local government units to please not repeat the ordeal they (OFWs) are going through, have a little pity for our people,” he said in his speech.
To date, the Philippine government has so far repatriated a total of 1,894 Filipinos from Lebanon since December 2019. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora / PNA – northboundasia.com