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

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, March 25th, 2019

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

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11 more Filipinos to arrive home from Libya

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, May 17th, 2019

More Filipinos in war-torn Libya will be repatriated to the Philippines, Philippine Chargè d’Affaires Elmer Cato said on Friday.

In a post on Twitter, Cato said 11 more Filipinos have been evacuated from the Libyan capital of Tripoli, bringing the number of Filipinos aided by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) officials to 55 since the latest conflict erupted last month.

“Another 11 of our kababayan were evacuated from Tripoli this morning by @PhinLibya, bringing to 55 the number of Filipinos assisted by @DFAPHL and @doleph in returning to the Philippines since latest conflict in Libya broke out on 4 April,” Cato said.

The DFA recently enforced a mandatory evacuation of Filipino workers in Tripoli and other areas within a 100-kilometer radius from the capital.

READ: Alert level 4 raised in Libya – DFA

Cato earlier called on Filipinos working in Tripoli to heed their advice to get out of the harm’s way by availing of the repatriation program they offer.

He said the ability of the DFA officials to respond to calls for assistance by Filipinos in distress becomes more difficult or even impossible to carry out as the fighting gets closer to the capital.

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Malacañang: Recall of PH officials over trash spat, a warning to Canada

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Canadian trash illegally exported to the Philippines (left) and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right)

MANILA, Philippines – The order of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls to Canada is a warning that the diplomatic relations between the two countries may be severed over a garbage spat, the Malacañang said on Thursday.

This was after the Canadian government missed the May 15 deadline to take back tons of trash it sent to Manila several years ago.

DFA Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said the recall order was to “maintain a diminished diplomatic presence in Canada until its garbage is ship bound there.”

READ: PH recalls envoys to Canada over missed trash shipment deadline

“The fact alone that Secretary Locsin has recalled our diplomats there shows that not only are we serious, we are already warning them, we’re gonna severe diplomatic relations,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told reporters at a press briefing.

Panelo added that the recall order for envoys aims to urge the Canadian government to expedite the garbage shipment process.

“That order of the recall is to persuade them to make it fast. The more the delay, the more personnel will be coming back,” he said.

Panelo on Wednesday said there might be a slight delay in shipping out the Canadian garbage due to the processing of documents. He had then surmised that the shipment of the trash might begin in “one to two weeks.”

The Canadian government earlier agreed to pay for the expenses in shipping out all 69 waste containers it had dumped in the Philippines in 2013 following a stern warning issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last month.

READ: Finally! Canada agrees to shoulder return of trash shipment

The President had warned he would declare “war” against Canada if it fails to retrieve its illegally exported trash.

He was referring to 103 containers of Canadian mixed wastes that arrived in Manila in batches from 2013 to 2014. The trash from around 26 containers have been dumped in a private landfill in Tarlac.

READ: Canada vows to resolve trash dumping issue after Duterte’s war threat

Ottawa earlier assured Manila it is working on resolving the issue “to ensure the material is processed in an environmentally responsible way.”

There are more than 837,000 Filipinos residing and working in Canada, based on a 2016 census. Most of them are located in Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

Some Filipinos there have appealed to the Philippine government to reconsider its move against Canada so as not to jeopardize the relations between the two nations.

Malacañang, however, assured that the government will continue to protect the interest of Filipinos abroad no matter what the outcome of its actions will be.

“Whatever the consequence, this government will be protective of the interest of our countrymen in any part of the world,” Panelo said. (with details from Rosalie Coz)

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DFA to stop issuing authentication certificates starting May 14

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, May 8th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has advised the public that it will no longer issue authentication certificates starting Tuesday next week.

This is in accordance with the Apostille Convention on Authentication of Documents that will take effect in the Philippines on May 14, 2019.

“After authentication by the DFA, there is no more need for authentication (legalization) by the concerned Foreign Embassies or Consulates General if the country or territory of destination of the authenticated document is already a member of the Apostille Convention,” DFA said in an advisory Tuesday (May 7).

Instead, the agency will affix an “Apostille” or a certificate giving a public document a legal effect for use in other countries.

Meanwhile, documents issued in Apostille member countries and territories (except Austria, Finland, Germany and Greece) which will be used in the Philippines no longer need authentication from Philippine Embassy or Consulate General once Apostillized.

The DFA clarified, however, that public documents coming from countries and territories not part of the Apostille Convention need to undergo the previous authentication process.

READ: List of Apostille-contracting parties

“Documents still have to be authenticated by the Philippine Embassy or Consulate General before they can be used in the Philippines,” the advisory said.

“Also, there is still a need for authentication (legalization) by the concerned Foreign Embassies or Consulates General if the country of destination of the authenticated document is not yet a member of the Apostille Convention,” it added.

Authentication fees will remain at P100 for regular processing and P200 for expedited processing per document. – Marje Pelayo

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