The thirty-five Filipino evacuees airlifted from Afghanistan by the US government and their employers have arrived safely in Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced on Tuesday (August 17).

However, the agency revealed that there are still 132 Filipinos waiting for repatriation in the Taliban-seized state. The militant group quickly took over the city of Kabul after US forces withdrew from the country after 20 years. 

DFA assured the public that they’ll do everything in their power to bring our kababayans home safely and swiftly. 

“The DFA is working nonstop to explore all options to ensure the safety and welfare of our people in Afghanistan in the face of challenging conditions,” said Assistant Secretary for public and cultural diplomacy Eduardo Meñez. 

The administration has raised Afghanistan’s alert level to 4, which calls for the mandatory return of Filipinos. Those who are still in Kabul have been advised to contact the Philippine Embassy in Pakistan for repatriation.

Asylum seekers welcome in PH

On the same day, Malacañang Palace declared that it’s opening the country’s doors to Afghan refugees.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the Philippines has a long history of taking in asylum seekers, which started back in the First World War. 

“Since time immemorial po, the Philippines has had jurisprudence even before the convention on refugees welcoming asylum seekers. Sabi nga po ng Korte Suprema, the Philippines will not hesitate to admit individuals fleeing their homelands because of fear of persecution,” Roque explained.

“So welcome po ang mga asylum seekers sa Pilipinas. Lahat po ng kinakailangan ng kalinga dahil sila po ay pinepersecute sa kanilang bayan, meron po kayong lugar dito sa Pilipinas,” he added.

Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte also offered to house Rohingya asylum seekers fleeing Myanmar due to persecution and civil war. 

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Image credit: DFA’s Official Facebook Page