MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Thursday said that its Joint Task Force Pag-Pauli (JTFP) has successfully repatriated 299 Filipinos affected by conflict and the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic in other countries.
AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., announced this, adding that the AFP is now more capable of mounting repatriation and rescue missions for distressed Filipinos abroad.
“This also proves our capability to respond to the needs of our ‘kababayans’ abroad. We are now more armed with experience and knowledge as we collectively face and surmount challenges here at home,” he said in a statement.
The repatriates include 227 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from Algeria, 40 from Libya, and 20 from Tunisia who availed of chartered flights arranged by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). They arrived in the country on June 22.
Last March 10, the JTFP’s international liaison officers (ILOs) assisting the DFA’s rapid response team in Libya also escorted 12 Filipinos for their repatriation.
“We are proud to report that our mission was accomplished and that Filipinos in need of repatriation were safely brought back to the country,” said AFP vice chief-of-staff and Joint Task Pag-Pauli commander, Vice Admiral Gaudencio Collado, Jr.
Aside from those deployed in Libya, the JTF has also deployed two ILOs in Iraq, one each in the cities of Erbil and Baghdad.
Earlier, the Naval Task Force 82 also repatriated 30 Filipinos from India and Sri Lanka aboard BRP Davao Del Sur (LD-602) and escorted by BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16).
The two vessels also transported 59 boxes or 200,000 pieces of face masks from India to the Philippines.
Aside from this, Santos said the JTFP was able to help the Philippines beef up its military ties with other countries.
The JTFP enhanced the AFP’s military diplomacy when NTF 82 commander, Marine Col. Noel Beleran, engaged in talks with Rear Admiral Abdullah Bin Khasim Bin Abdullah Al Raisi, chief of the Royal Navy of Oman, on February 24.
It also hosted a shipboard tour and fellowship dinner for members of the Filipino community in Oman aboard BRP Davao del Sur and BRP Ramon Alcaraz on February 21.
“The mission of JTF Pag-Pauli was to bring home fellow Filipinos. But along the way, we were also able to strengthen our ties in advancing military diplomacy with our foreign counterparts,” he added. (PNA)