First batch of Filipinos repatriated from Iraq to arrive in PH Wednesday

Robie de Guzman   •   January 15, 2020   •   511

MANILA, Philippines – The first batch of Filipino workers repatriated from Iraq will arrive on Wednesday afternoon, January 15, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a statement, 13 Filipinos evacuated from Baghdad and Erbil in Iraq will arrive in Manila.

The DFA said the first group from Baghdad, comprised of seven adults and two minors were supposed to arrive on Tuesday but was held by Iraqi immigration officials at the Baghdad International Airport for “baseless allegations of visa fraud.”

The second group is composed of four adults coming from Erbil, north of Baghdad.

The department said the repatriated Filipinos will be landing in Doha, Qatar before flying to Manila. They are scheduled to land at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 at 4:10 p.m.

“The repatriates arriving today comprise the first batch of Filipinos coming home after the government ordered mandatory repatriation,” DFA Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola said in a statement.

“More Filipinos from affected areas are expected to come home in the coming weeks,” Arriola added.

Alert Level 4, which mandates mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq, was raised on January 8, 2020, due to growing security threats in the Middle East.

The tension grew after top Iranian military commander Qassem Solemanei was killed by a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

Iran retaliated on January 8 by launching a series of ballistic missile attacks at Iraq’s bases housing US troops. On the same day, around 176 passengers were killed when a Ukrainian plane was mistakenly shot down by Iran while on alert after its missile attacks on US forces in Iraq.

Duterte admin to pursue friendly bilateral relations with Malaysia despite Sabah dispute

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Duterte administration will pursue the country’s friendly bilateral relations with Malaysia.

This was the response of Malacañang after Malaysia announced its intention to summon the Philippine’s ambassador in Malaysia over the controversial remarks of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin.

On July 27, Locsin posted in his tweet that “Sabah is not in Malaysia” in reaction to a post by the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Hisshammudin Hussein countered Locsin saying his comment was ‘irresponsible’, whereafter he summoned the Philippine ambassador.

Locsin stressed that he is asserting the Philippines’ rights over Sabah just as the country is defending and asserting the rights of the Filipinos in the West Philippine Sea.

Locsin replied that he will also summon the Malaysian ambassador in Manila on the matter.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque meanwhile said that despite the unresolved territorial dispute on Sabah, the country will maintain friendly bilateral relations with its Southeast Asian neighbor.

READ: DFA denies giving up claim on Sabah

“This unresolved territorial dispute, as you correctly said has been dormant […] It has not affected our friendly bilateral relations and we will definitely maintain this friendly bilateral relations despite and in spite of this unresolved dispute,” he said. MNP (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

Pompeo says closed Chinese consulate in Houston was ‘den of spies’

UNTV News   •   July 31, 2020

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday (July 30) the “tide is turning” in U.S. dealings with China, saying there is international support for American policies, including the step-up of maritime maneuvers in the South China Sea.

Reflecting rising tensions between Washington and Beijing, Pompeo took a tough line on China in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“We see the Chinese Communist Party for what it is: the center threat of our times,” Pompeo said.

In recent days, Washington and Beijing have each closed one of the other country’s consulates – the United States closing China’s office in Houston and China retaliating by shuttering the U.S. facility in Chengdu – and Pompeo recently announced an end to Hong Kong’s special trading status.

“We closed the consulate in Houston because it was a den of spies,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo was testifying publicly at Foreign Relations Committee hearing for the first time in 15 months, discussing the State Department’s annual budget request.

President Donald Trump’s administration has tried to slash the State Department budget since it took office, which has been rejected by Congress every year. Democratic lawmakers told the hearing that they would not support steep cuts this year either. (Reuters)

(Production: Kia Johnson)

DFA main building in Roxas Blvd. reopens July 30

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reopened its main building in Roxas Boulevard Pasay City on Thursday (30 July) following the Department’s review of public health and safety measures currently in place and the adoption of additional measures for the protection of its personnel.

For updates regarding services and announcements, the Department encourages the public to visit any of the DFA’s media platforms: DFA website, Facebook page or Twitter.

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