Dubai: The Philippine missions in the UAE assured their kababayans (compatriots) they are ready to assist them and “will do everything possible to help them weather the crisis” that was brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The statement came after the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi and Philippine Consulate in Dubai issued a joint advisory on Monday detailing the guidelines for Filipinos who would like to go back home despite the flight and movement restrictions.
In a memorandum written in Filipino addressed to their kababayans, the Philippine diplomatic posts said: “If you are terminated, it is the obligation of your employer to get you a return ticket to the Philippines. This is pursuant to the UAE Labour Laws.”
“The employer can book a flight via Emirates of Etihad Airlines, which have been given a permission to fly to the Philippines. There is no need to call the Embassy or Consulate on this because they have been given special flights permission to land in Manila despite the lockdown in Metro Manila and Luzon,” the advisory added.
A travel agent confirmed to Gulf News there is a special Emirates repatriation flight available on April 15 and 16. A one-way flight to Manila starts from Dh2,550 with a 25-kg check-in baggage allowance plus 7kg hand-carry.
Addressing the employers, the two missions said: “We are calling on the employers for their understanding and cooperation.”
“(We are) ready to assist our compatriots and will do everything possible to help them weather this crisis, they added.
Ask help from family and friends
In the same advisory, the two Philippine missions added: “If you have no employer or job contract and has arrived to the UAE to look for a job through the help of family and friends or through a sponsoring travel agency, you need to get their assistance to buy a ticket.
“You can book directly to either Emirates or Etihad. No need to contact the embassy or consulate,” they added.
For those with no employer, relative or friend to help them and would like to go home for good, they should get in touch with the Embassy of Consulate “to help assess their situation.”
“The Embassy or Consulate will ask the Philippine government to purchase you a return ticket. If there is an available fund, we will facilitate your return to the Philippines,” the advisory noted.
Fund is available
Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes told Gulf News the total budget of the Philippine government for its Assistance to Nationals (ATN) is PhP 1 billion pesos (Dh72.5 million) annually for overseas Filipinos globally.
Cortes noted the ATN fund was instrumental in helping overstaying Filipinos in the UAE during the 2018 Amnesty Repatriation programme. “Philippine authorities shouldered not just the airfare of amnesty seekers, but also their out-pass clearances and other administrative fees,” Cortes pointed out.
The Philippine missions, however, reminded their compatriots who are seeking repatriation that “it would be helpful if they are fully decided to go home before they approach the Philippine Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
“Please make sure of your intentions so as not to waste the resources which can be used for other urgent purposes,” they said.
The advisory added: “Because of the current situation, please give your Embassy or Consulate some time to arrange for your flights. You may email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.