The Philippine Embassy in Seoul assisted 148 passengers who boarded the special Korean Air flight KE 623 which departed from Incheon International Airport on June 7, 2020.
The special flight was arranged by the Philippine Embassy in Seoul for Filipino nationals who were stranded in Korea due to intermittent schedule and frequent cancellation of international flights to Manila.
The arrangement was made possible with the support of various government agencies in the Philippines such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Manila International Airport Authorities (MIAA), and the Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, in cooperation with Korean Air.
According to Charge d’affaires, a.i. (CDA) Christian L. de Jesus, the Embassy continues to respond to the various needs of Filipino nationals in Korea whose lives and employment are affected by the pandemic in unprecedented ways.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Embassy has assisted 270 stranded Filipinos in Korea, both residents and transiting passengers at Incheon International Airport. The special flight was initiated by the Embassy following our survey of Filipinos in Korea who were looking for a special passenger flight. Many have already finished their employment contracts but could not go home because their flight bookings have been cancelled for as many as three to six times,” CDA de Jesus said.
Under the one-country team approach, CDA de Jesus leads the Embassy and its attached agencies in extending coordinated pandemic-related services to Filipinos in Korea, in cooperation with the different Filipino community organizations. To date, the Embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) have provided food packages to 470 individuals; hygiene and COVID-19 care kits to 1,770 Filipinos; meal assistance (cash) to 75 OFWs stranded at the Incheon International Airport; and $200.00 (approximately PHP 10,000.00) DOLE AKAP cash aid each to 425 OFWs in Korea who were displaced from work or were unable to work due to quarantine, with a total pay-out of $85,000.00 (approximately PHP 4.24 million).
Before boarding the special flight, the stranded Filipinos extended their appreciation for the assistance of the Philippine government. “Maraming salamat po sa tulong ng Embassy at POLO-OWWA! Sa wakas, makakauwi na kami (Thank you very much for the Embassy and POLO-OWWA! Finally, we can go home),” said Noel Paclibar one of the returning EPS workers.
“With social distancing measures in place, we commemorate the Migrant Workers’ Day today in a different but equally meaningful way, by serving our migrant workers most in need and helping bring them home to their families,” CDA de Jesus said.