Wed, 06 Jul 2022

MANILA - Malacanang on Friday advised overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who are seeking repatriation from Sri Lanka to get in touch with either the Philippine Embassy in Dhaka or the Honorary Consulate in Colombo.

Communication Undersecretary Michel Kristian Ablan, also acting deputy presidential spokesperson, said in an online press conference that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is "on top of the situation" in the wake of the economic crisis in Sri Lanka.

There are at least 581 Filipinos in Sri Lanka, according to the latest DFA data, and most continue to work despite the ongoing economic crisis in the South Asian nation.

"Kapag nagkaroon po ng problema, tawagan lang po nila ang embahada o ang ating consulate para ma-repatriate na po sila (If they encounter problems, just contact the embassy or our consulate for their repatriation)," Ablan said.

In an interview with a news network on Wednesday, Filipino community adviser in Sri Lanka, Zeny Yabut, said Filipinos want to be repatriated as the financial crisis has triggered a shortage of basic goods and fuel.

Ablan, however, echoed the DFA's recent statement that there is still no repatriation request.

"We empathize with our Filipino kababayans na nasa (fellow Filipinos who are in) Sri Lanka. Pero ayon po sa DFA, wala pa rin po silang natatanggap na tawag mula sa ating mga Pilipino doon, sa embahada natin sa Dhaka at sa honorary consulate natin sa Colombo (However, the DFA said our embassy in Dhaka and Honorary Consulate in Colombo has yet to receive any request from Filipinos there)," he said.

The compounded impact of the coronavirus disease 2019, foreign exchange security, rising inflation, and prolonged power cuts have crippled Sri Lanka's economy and aggravated an "already dire situation" over access to food and health, the United Nations said.

The worst economic state of Sri Lanka prompted the country to declare a state of emergency in April.

On May 9, clashes erupted between government supporters and protesters gathered around the Prime Minister's Office and military units were called to the capital Colombo, according to the Anadolu news agency.

Amid growing pressure from the opposition, Mahinda Rajapaksa stepped down as prime minister and was replaced by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The government declared a nationwide curfew and ordered troops to open fire on anyone looting public property or causing harm to life, the Anadolu report added.

"We only have petrol stocks for a single day," Wickremesinghe said in a tweet on May 17. "The next couple of months will be the most difficult ones of our lives."

The Sri Lankan government is seeking USD75 million in foreign exchange to pay debts, including for oil shipments, he added.

He warned of power outages for up to 15 hours a day as the country relies on oil to generate electricity.

"We will face considerable challenges and adversity. However, this will not be for long. In the coming months, our foreign allies will assist us. They have already pledged their support," Wickremesinghe said. (PNA)

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