Repatriates from the UAE reach 3,000 — DFA

Maris Federez   •   July 19, 2021   •   349

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has repatriated a total of 3,000 distressed Filipinos from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the start of the pandemic.

The 7th special chartered flight from the UAE that carried 359 overseas Filipinos — including 112 pregnant Filipinos and 12 persons with disabilities — arrived at the Davao International Airport on Sunday morning.

“We are working double-time to make sure our kababayans in distress get the much-needed repatriation the soonest. Pregnant women, PWDs, and those with special needs are given due consideration to expediting their return home,” Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Y. Arriola said in a news release Sunday.

The DFA said the repatriation of Filipinos from the UAE was made successful in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the Philippine Consulate General in Dubai, the City Government of Davao, and other government agencies.

“We send our appreciation to our partner agencies, especially to the City Government of Davao, for the invaluable assistance to the repatriates upon their arrival. This is a clear example of the whole-of-government approach that the administration promised in assisting our distressed OFs,” Arriola added.

The DFA said all repatriates received a10,000-peso reintegration assistance.

Their return flight ticket, free quarantine facility, and swab test were also provided by the Philippine government. —/mbmf

DFA temporarily closes NCR West consular office as 7 staff contract COVID-19

Marje Pelayo   •   September 20, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) advises the public that the operations of its consular office (CO) located at SM City in Manila are temporarily suspended from Monday to Tuesday (September 20-21).

This, after seven staff of DFA CO NCR-West contracted COVID-19, while others have been identified as close contacts.

The consular office has been temporarily closed for thorough disinfection of its premises and to comply with the isolation and quarantine guidelines imposed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) and the Department of Health (DOH).

“Affected applicants for this period will receive an email providing them the details of their alternative passport appointment,” the advisory said.

For further updates, CO NCR-West can be reached by phone through the following numbers: (02) 8536-9995 and 0920-503-7256, or via the following email addresses:

* Email: ncrwest.so@dfa.gov.ph, dfancrwest@gmail.com
* For Passport Processing Concerns: dfancrwest.passport@gmail.com
* For Authentication Processing Concerns: dfancrwest.authentication@gmail.com
* For Passport/Apostille Releasing Concerns: dfancrwest.releasing@gmail.com

The department urges applicants to only refer to the official DFA platforms for announcements and updates.

3 more Filipinos evacuated from conflict-torn Afghanistan — DFA

Marje Pelayo   •   September 17, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) confirmed the latest repatriation of three overseas Filipinos from conflict-stricken Afghanistan.

In an advisory on Thursday (September 17), the DFA said there are still 20 Filipinos remaining in Afghanistan, two of them expressed their intention to be repatriated while 18 others opted to stay for work reasons.

As of September 17, a total of 191 Filipinos left Afghanistan after the Taliban militants took over the land-locked Asian country’s government.

“The Philippine Embassy in Islamabad [in Pakistan] continues to monitor the status of Filipinos in Afghanistan and stands ready to assist them at any time,” the DFA said.

Any Filipino in distress can contact the Philippine Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan whose contact details below:
Whatsapp/Viber: +923335244762
Messenger/Facebook: Islamabad PE Atn or OFW Help
Email: isbpeatn@gmail.com

The DFA stressed that Alert Level 4 remains for Afghanistan where mandatory repatriation is in effect.

Comelec reports 52% voter turnout in internet voting test run among overseas Filipinos

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 13, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported a 52% voter turnout during the internet voting pilot test run for overseas Filipinos.

In a press briefing, Comelec – Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) Director Sonia Bea Wee-Lozada said 669 test voters were qualified for the 2-day pilot test. However, only 402 individuals of the eligible voters underwent the verification process. Of the 402, only 348 or 52.01% actually voted.

“This 402 were verified test voters. Meaning, these voters were the ones who were able to successfully go through the voter verification process, downloaded the app, uploaded a copy of their identification document, and get the selfie camera,” Lozada said.

She added that the poll body is currently assessing the outcome of the test run.

“We will still have to go over the feedback the other from the test voters as well as the audit portion which we will plan after this session. We will plan to look into the auditability of the system and we also encouraged test voters to confirm and used the confirmation ID that they’ve received,” she said.

Based on the initial assessment, Lozada said that the process of internet voting, based on the test run, was efficient.

“I think it is efficient in the sense that it did not take off the time as compared to how you would do voting traditionally. Like if you would do it like we are doing the Philippines which in-person system you have to wake early beat the line, falling in line, travel early to your polling center, line up,” she said.

She said the turnout is promising since OFOV has never reached 50 percent turnout during the actual polls.

“This is for me, for someone who has looked at the historical figures for overseas voting in the Philippines, this looks promising because traditionally, we never go beyond 50 percent when it comes to voters actually voted for overseas voting,” she said.

American firm Voatz, Inc. reported that there were several problems encountered during the voting process, including connectivity problems, SMS not received/delayed, voting instructions going to the spam folder, or some ID types not accepted.

“The number one support request was related voters were unable to upload pictures of their voter ID and a selfie. Some people were having delays because of the slowness of their network or their devices, so they keep trying and eventually succeed,” said Nimit Sawhney
CEO and Co-Founder of Voatz, Inc.

Comelec said that it will conduct another internet voting test run with another service provider on Wednesday (Sept. 15). The results will be submitted to Congress which will be used in drafting laws for the next elections. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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