• Filipinos start leaving Egypt

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    FIVE Filipinos arrived from Egypt on Wednesday amid the crisis alert     Level 4 raised there by the Philippine government this week.

    Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez said three of the Filipinos came from Cairo while the two came from Alexandria.

    “We call on our kababayans in Egypt to get in touch with our embassy in Cairo immediately and to avail of our mandatory repatriation program for their safety,” Hernandez said in a text message.

    DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario, on his second trip to Egypt in two weeks, raised the alert to Level 4 on August 19 after seeing the deteriorating peace and order situation there.

    Last week, a Filipino-Egyptian teenager was hit by a stray bullet from the clashes between the Muslim Brotherhood and the forces of Egypt’s interim government.

    Crisis alert Level 4 means the mandatory repatriation of some 6,000 Filipinos residing in the Arab nation.

    A rapid response team (RRT) arrived in Cairo on August 17 to assist in the implementation of the repatriation program.

    The embassy can be reached at trunk lines +202-2-521-3062/64/65/51, direct lines +202-2-516-6217 or 2-521-3045 and mobile hotlines +2-012-2743-6472 or 012-8247-6554. It can also be reached through its Facebook page Cairo Philippine Embassy and by sending an email to cairope@tedata.net.eg or cairo.pe@dfa.gov.ph.

    Meanwhile, President Benigno Aquino 3rd said Malacañang has released $240,000 for the mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Egypt.

    “Merong initial na $240,000 sent to the Cairo Embassy for repatriation [We have sent an initial of $240,000 to our embassy in Cairo for the repatriation],” Aquino said.

    However, he said there are some workers who refuse to evacuate for fear of losing their jobs.

    “We have between 5,000 and 6,000 ang ating mga kababayan doon, mostly students at saka mga domestic helpers [We have between 5,000 and 6,000 Filipinos there, mostly students and domestic helpers],” he said.

    “Initially, there are only five who are coming home today at marami ang nagre-resist [dahil]ayaw raw nila mawala ’yung trabaho nila [Initially, there are only five who are coming home today and there are some who resist because they don’t want to lose their job, especially for those who are working],” Aquino added.

    The President reiterated the call for all Filipinos in Egypt to immediately contact the Philippine Embassy in Cairo and to avail of its repatriation service.

    “The situation is really serious [otherwise]we will not call for

    Level 4, which is forced repatriation. I’m sure the embassy in Egypt has been preparing for this, and has been actively trying to encourage our countrymen to ensure their safety to leave Egypt at this time,” he added.

    Aquino also assured the returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) that they will be given assistance.

    “[Labor] Secretary [Rosalinda] Baldoz, I’m sure, will be preparing to assist them together with Tesda [Technical Education and Skills Development Authority] and other government entities to impart the necessary skills for reintegration,” he said.

    “Automatic naman ’yon for any returning OFW. Pero dito nga, dahil nga forced, dahil nga medyo 5,000 is not an inconsequential number, I’m sure naghahanda na ’yung mga kaukulang departamento [That is automatic for any returning OFW but in this case, since this is a forced evacuation, 5,000 is not an inconsequential number and I’m sure the government agencies are preparing for this],” he added.

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