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The City Tourism Office (CTO) on Monday said around 1,000 stranded foreign nationals from Puerto Princesa and all over Palawan were already repatriated within March 19 to 28 this year.
Aileen Cynthia Amurao, CTO head, told Palawan Daily News (PDN) Monday, March 30, some of these outbound flights from Puerto Princesa International Airport (PPIA) were “mercy flights” shouldered by the national government, while some were sponsored and arranged by foreign embassies.
“13 tayo nag-lock down, natapos ‘yong mga special flights ng 19. Tapos nag-resume tayo ulit, ito na ‘yong mga sweeper flights, [March] 19. Noong [March] 26 tatlong Cebu Pacific ang chinarter (chartered) ng government. Nag-reciprocate tayo kasi nag-request ‘yong mga foreign embassies,” said Amurao.
It was on the second week of March when President Rodrigo Duterte released a proclamation that placed the entire of Luzon in an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) as part of the country’s fight against the threat of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Amurao said almost half of those repatriated foreign tourists were those stranded in Puerto Princesa.
She said these foreign tourists were composed of “Europeans, Americans, and Asians”.
Amurao stated they observed strict disinfection protocols during repatriation flights to ensure everyone’s health safety.
She added their team, which assisted these repatriation operations, was composed of the City Toursim Office (CHO) and Provincial Tourism Office (PTO), Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), Philippine National Police (PNP), City Health Office (CHO), City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO), Department of Tourism (DOT) in the region, and Aviation Security Group (ASG).
“Actually naman kami talaga every now and then na mayroong operations kami, kung mayroong mga special flights or repatriation flights, we immediately organize a team,” said Amurao.
Amurao said the last repatriated batch so far was on Saturday, March 28, a chartered flight arranged by the Austrian Embassy.