DFA chief flies back to Syria

Posted at 09/04/12 4:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario left for Syria on Monday to oversee the repatriation efforts of the Philippine Government.

"We were given a clear mandate by the President to ensure the safety and welfare of Filipinos in Syria. We want to facilitate the immediate repatriation of as many Filipinos as possible," Del Rosario said.

The DFA chief was accompanied on the trip by Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Rafael Seguis.

The latest trip is Del Rosario’s third time to visit the country. In 2011, Del Rosario went to Syria in April and December to personally seek the assistance of the Syrian government to look after Filipinos in the country.

Seguis likewise embarked on a similar mission to Syria last July. His efforts resulted in the granting of exit visas and the waiver of penalties and fees for 140 Filipinos who were brought home last July 30 to August 01.

There are currently over 1,000 Filipinos who are undergoing repatriation procedures.

A Rapid Response Team (RRT) is presently in Syria to extract Filipinos from conflict areas and help speed-up the repatriation efforts.

Nearly 300 Filipinos are being housed in the Embassy's halfway house ready to be repatriated and are expected to arrive in the coming days.

A total of 26 Filipinos are also scheduled to arrive Tuesday and Wednesday, which will bring the total number of repatriates to 2,124.