163 Filipino crew of stranded cruise ship in Norway all safe: DFA

Robie de Guzman   •   March 25, 2019   •   2107

Helicopters hover above the Viking Sky cruise ship as passengers are airlifted from the vessel that was stranded off Norway. | Courtesy: CHC Helicopter through Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) continues to closely monitor the rescue operations for the passengers of a cruise ship that was stranded off the coast of Norway.

In a statement on Sunday (March 24), the DFA said all 163 Filipino crew members of the cruise ship, Viking Sky, are safe and are helping in the evacuation of passengers

“The Philippine Embassy in Oslo, which is in touch with Viking Cruises and the Norwegian Rescue Center, reported that the ship’s 163 Filipino crew members are all safe and are helping evacuate passengers,” the DFA added.

Passengers also praised the efficiency and helpfulness of the ship’s Filipino crew in the evacuation, the Philippine Embassy in Norway said.

On Saturday, the Viking Sky sent a distress signal off the coast of Norway after it encountered engine problems in rough seas that caused it to drift toward the rocky shore.   

479 people, mostly senior citizens, were airlifted by Rescue Services. Some 20 passengers had been taken to hospital while others only suffered minor injuries, the Viking Cruise ship management said.

There were 1,373 passengers aboard the luxury ship the but none were Filipinos, the DFA said.

Report from Norwegian authorities said the luxury ship had restarted and is now moving at a slow pace. Tug boats are currently trying to move the Viking Sky to shore as three of the cruise ship’s four engines working. – Robie de Guzman

DFA warns vs ‘travel exemption fee’ scam targeting foreigners

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 11, 2020

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday warned the public against a travel fee scam targeting foreign nationals who wish to enter the Philippines amid imposed travel restrictions.

In an advisory the DFA said they received reports of a “travel exemption fee” that supposedly allows the entry of foreign nationals into the country.

The DFA reiterated that it does not collect such fees “or any kind of fee whatsoever for the purpose of allowing foreign nationals to enter the country.”

“Foreign nationals should be guided by the latest advisory of the Bureau of Immigration as to who are allowed to enter the Philippines during the State of Public Health Emergency,” the advisory reads.

The foreign affairs department also said travel restrictions are still being implemented in the country amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. AAC

DFA disowns group of diplomats backing ex-PH envoy to Brazil

Robie de Guzman   •   November 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Tuesday denied a report that a group of former diplomats is supporting the embattled ex-Philippine Ambassador to Brazil.

The DFA issued the statement following confirmation that the country’s former envoy Marichu Mauro has returned to the country to face an investigation into her alleged acts of abuse towards her household service staff.

“The Department of Foreign Affairs is not aware of the existence of the so-called ‘Department of Foreign Affairs Career Officers Corps’ and the ‘Retired Ambassadors Association,’” the department said.

“The reported statement of such organizations on the case of the former Philippine Ambassador to Brazil does not, in any way, reflect the position of the Department nor the sentiment of its career corps,” it added.

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go earlier said Mauro has arrived in the country late Monday night.

She is expected to face the panel formed by the DFA to look into the series of alleged physical abuse she committed against her household helper as shown in CCTV videos released by a Brazilian media last month.

The DFA earlier assured the conduct of a thorough investigation and to mete out appropriate sanctions based on its findings.

“The Department stands by its resolve to respond to the matter in accordance with, and to the fullest extent of the law,” it said.

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DFA: 61 countries now open for tourism

Marje Pelayo   •   November 3, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced on Monday (November 2) that a total of 61 countries and destinations have opened for tourism following months of inbound restrictions due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Among 198 countries and destinations in the world, “54 have already lifted inbound border restrictions on Filipino travels,” the DFA noted in the advisory. 

Meanwhile, “only 7 allow entry without any inbound arrival protocols” and these are Andorra, Haiti, Mexico, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Zambia.

However, the DFA said “over 130 remain closed for tourism” and these include 53 countries and areas that are still closed to inbound travellers and 84 which have travel bans against tourists remain in effect.

“While travel for leisure is now an option amidst the pandemic, the DFA advises Filipino travelers to refer to the requirements set by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) and implemented by the Bureau of Immigration (BI),” the Department said.

“Moreover, travelers should always check ahead of travel dates with their airlines before departure or before booking a ticket as the information in the infographics could change at any time,” it added.

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