Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Monday that they are dispatching additional personnel to fast track the repatriation of more than a hundred Filipinos displaced in the Caribbean and assist those in the United States who would be affected by Hurricane Irma.
In a statement, SFA Cayetano said that a five-member team from the Office of Migrant Workers Affairs, led by Undersecretary Sarah Lou Arriola, is en route to Washington, D.C. to oversee the rescue and repatriation of some 136 Filipinos stranded in the British Virgin Islands.
On the other hand, four personnel from the Philippine consulates general in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago will also be joining the team from the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. that is now in Puerto Rico waiting for the go-signal to proceed to Tortola.
“The team will be bringing emergency relief supplies and make arrangements for repatriation of the stranded Filipino, possibly via chartered aircraft.” Cayetano added.
The DFA chief also said that they are now exerting their best efforts to reach Filipinos affected by the cyclone in the British Virgin Islands and bring them all home as soon as possible.
More Filipinos have expressed their desire to be repatriated from the island after Hurricane Irma, said to be one of the most powerful storms in the Atlantic that swept through the Caribbean several days ago.
According to Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto, there are so far no Filipinos reported among the casualties of Hurricane Irma in Florida.
The Embassy and the Honorary Consulate in Miami continue to monitor the situation in Florida and neighboring states that would be impacted by Hurricane Irma.
The Embassy remains in touch with leaders of the Filipino Community in affected areas and continues to update relatives of those affected and the public on ongoing efforts to assist affected kababayans.
Meanwhile, Cayetano commended our kababayans in the said areas for keeping the bayanihan spirit alive and well in the midst the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean and the United States.
Many of the Filipinos have taken the initiative to reach out to their neighbors, coworkers and friends and open the doors of their homes, share provisions, medicines and even wifi access.
“We are heartened to hear all about these gestures that truly prove that the spirit of bayanihan is still very much alive among our kababayans wherever they are in the world.”, Cayetano said.
In Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten, which are among the worst affected territories in the region, the Filipino communities have proceeded to organize and assess the needs of their members, and coordinate aid efforts with the Philippine Embassies in Washington, DC and The Hague in the Netherlands.
Filipinos in Puerto Rico are also active in assisting the response team from the Embassy in gathering the supplies and finding ways to transport them to kababayans in the British Virgin Islands.
Some Filipinos in the US and Canada have also signified their desire to help in the aftermath of the hurricane’s anticipated onslaught in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas by planning fund and relief drives. (DFA-PR/PTV)