The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) assured overseas Filipinos of continued assistance amid the announcement from National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. that all international airports in the Philippines will be closed from 3 to 10 May 2020.
“The National Task Force Against COVID-19 has made the decision to temporarily restrict flight operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila and all other international airports in the country except for the following: (1) Emergencies while enroute; (2) Cargo Flights; (3) Air Ambulance and medical supplies flights; (4) Weather Mitigation Flights; and (5) Maintenance Flights,” said Secretary Galvez.
He added that sweeper flights for foreign nationals repatriating back to their respective countries will still be allowed. All domestic air arrivals and departures at the NAIA will remain suspended.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) added that international flights wishing to land and depart must request exemption with the CAAP OPCEN at least 36 hours before the scheduled departure from their place of origin.
“The decision to temporarily close the airports for international flight is meant to decongest our quarantine facilities to protect our people from the further spread of COVID-19 and also to ensure that our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) are well taken cared of when they arrive from abroad,” Secretary Galvez stated.
“As of today, there are already approximately 20,000 OFWs undergoing mandatory quarantine in Metro Manila. To date, the DFA has facilitated the repatriation of 24,422, of which 16,936 are seafarers and 7,486 are land based workers,” Foreign Undersecretary Sarah Lou Y. Arriola reported.
She assured that the repatriation of distressed Filipinos will resume once the suspension is lifted.
Undersecretary Arriola advised Filipinos returning to the Philippines who have been affected by the temporary closure of NAIA and needing assistance to contact the nearest Philippine Embassy or Consulate where they are currently located. Their contact details may be accessed through OFW Help Facebook page and DFA website.
“The DFA, through its over 90 Philippine Embassies and Consulates abroad, stands ready to assist stranded OFWs due the temporary closure of the airport,” she added.
Undersecretary Arriola also counseled those who were affected to contact their airlines for information on the resumption of its service and subsequent rebooking of their flight to the Philippines.