The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) welcomed the last and sixth batch of repatriates, comprising 38 Filipino missionaries belonging to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who arrived in Manila shortly before midnight on Saturday.
The successful repatriation of the missionaries who were stranded in Cotê d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, was made possible by the close collaboration and coordination between the DFA’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs and the Church of Jesus Christ since 11 April 2020. Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, together with its Philippine Honorary Consulates in Cotê d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Sierra Leone, led the ground operations in West Africa, which included securing passes to facilitate the movement of the missionaries in said countries, and overfly and landing clearances to allow the sweeper flights to fetch them.
On Friday afternoon, the chartered plane Embraer Legacy 600 flew the two Filipino missionaries, along with missionaries of other nationalities, stranded in Cotê d’Ivoire to Accra, Ghana, where they joined the other missionaries. Another flight, the chartered Egypt Air B787 Airbus, which left Cairo, Egypt, also on Friday, fetched the missionaries in Accra, Ghana, then in Freetown, Sierra Leone, before heading to Manila. This plane that landed at NAIA Terminal 1 at 11:08 p.m. was also used to fetch missionaries currently stranded in the Philippines. It left past midnight for its final journey to Brisbane, Australia.
Speaking on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ, retired General Pedro Soria II expressed their profound gratitude for the remarkable assistance that the DFA has extended to them in the past 14 days to make the repatriation of their missionaries possible. “We wish you more power and may God bless you always with the needful things in life and the righteous desires of your hearts,” he said.
The missionaries underwent the required health assessment by the Department of Health-Bureau of Quarantine upon disembarkation and shall be subjected to a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
“DFA will stand by its commitment to serve all Filipinos abroad. We will continue to bring home distressed overseas Filipinos in a whole-of-nation approach, working closely with partners in government and in the private sector to ensure safe and successful repatriation,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said.