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Poland accepts Pinoys from Ukraine

Pia Lee-Brago, Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Poland accepts Pinoys from Ukraine
Foreigners who live in Ukraine ave their national flags as they attend the "International Unity March for Ukraine" in Kyiv on Feb. 6, 2022. Expats from different countries rally in downtown Kyiv waving national flags to show unity and support for Ukraine amid soaring tensions with Russia.
Genya SAVILOV / AFP

MANILA, Philippines —  Repatriation of Filipinos from Ukraine is ongoing, with Poland offering to take in some of them temporarily as Russian forces began their offensive on its former satellite state, according to Malacañang and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“The safety of Filipinos in Ukraine remains foremost in the mind of President Duterte,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said in a statement issued yesterday.

“The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, is now conducting repatriation efforts of Filipinos living in Ukraine,” he added.

Last Wednesday, the DFA said Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for migrant workers’ affairs Sarah Arriola is leading the repatriation effort for Filipinos who want to come home. Six Filipinos from Ukraine have returned to the Philippines as of Feb. 18.

Poland has agreed to take in Filipinos from Ukraine even without a visa, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said.

In a post on Twitter after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in a televised address that he had approved a “special military operation” in Ukraine, Locsin said the Philippine Embassy in Warsaw, which has jurisdiction over Ukraine, was put on high alert.

“Warsaw PE’s (Philippine Embassy) been on high alert; repatriated a few; Poland finally agreed to let ours in sans EU (European Union) visas; not heard anything from Russia on our request re: its closest border,” Locsin tweeted.

“Most Filipinos in Ukraine are grateful guests and want to stick it out with their warm welcoming neighbors,” he said.

“I confirm what he (Locsin) said but that’s as far as we can go. We cannot give other details and we’ll let the Secretary give the details as to the arrangements with Poland. Actually there are no people yet who have crossed to other countries,” Arriola said in an online press briefing.

Many of the 181 Filipinos in Ukraine, according to Arriola, are household service workers.

“All our posts, not only in Warsaw, but all our posts in Europe are willing to lend a helping hand to Filipinos in Ukraine,” she said.

“For now, we urge our kababayans in Ukraine not to panic but to exercise caution and mind their movement, to keep their vigilance, and to maintain communication with the Philippine Embassy Team in Lviv or the Consulate General in Kyiv should they need any assistance,” the DFA said in a statement.

“Our posts in Warsaw, Budapest, and Moscow, as well as the rest of our European posts, are on standby for any eventuality,” the DFA said.

The DFA also assured Filipinos in Ukraine that it would maintain its presence in Lviv in support of the Philippine Consulate General in Kyiv “as long as there is a clear and present need.”

In an interview with reporters, Vice President Leni Robredo said the Philippines should also prepare for the possible long-term impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

“Maybe they felt that they are safe there. For me, we have to focus on this… because anytime now, the conditions may suddenly shift,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

“But more than this, we also have to prepare for its effect, for instance, on the world prices of fuel and other products since that is the natural consequence of these upheavals,” Robredo, who is running for president, said.

“I am asking all our OFWs to evacuate immediately so that they wouldn’t be trapped within an impending war and to reduce the worries of our government and their loved ones,” Sen. Manny Pacquiao said. – With Neil Jayson Servallos, Delon Porcalla, Richmond Mercurio, Janvic Mateo

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