Philippine Embassy in Cairo meets with Filipino community today, confirms their safety

A January 31, 2011 press release by the Department of Foreign Affairs

The Philippine Embassy in Cairo meets the leaders of the Filipino community today to confirm their safety and fine-tune their contingency plan, including relocation centers, a review of prepared routes, and other logistical aspects in case the situation worsen and would necessitate an evacuation.

This was reported by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) during a press conference held today, with Foreign Affairs Undersecretaries Rafael E. Seguis and Esteban B. Conejos Jr., and DFA Spokesperson J. Eduardo Malaya.

Upon the instructions of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo, DFA-OUMWA Special Assistant Enrico Fos departed today for Egypt to aid the Embassy in the implementation of contingency measures it has put in place for the Filipino community. Consul General Ezzedin Tago, an Arabic-speaking career foreign service officer of Filipino and Egyptian lineage, is proceeding to Cairo from his current station in Riyadh.  Special Envoy Roy Cimatu will also proceed to Egypt after the conclusion of his mission in another country in the region.

The Embassy is conducting a phone brigade, calling Filipino community members to check on their condition and to know their whereabouts.  The Embassy hotline was also distributed to them, should they feel that they are at risk and needed to be moved out.

Philippine Charge d’Affaires Eduardo Pablo Maglaya reported to Secretary Romulo that the current situation on the ground has not changed, and there has been no reports of any attacks targeting foreigners.  In particular, there is no imminent danger to the lives of Filipinos there.

The Embassy reiterated its advise to the Filipino community to stay indoors, steer clear of public places—especially sites of mass protest—and avoid involvement in political actions.

At the press conference, the DFA affirmed the availability of P25 million as standby emergency fund for the Egypt crisis. Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) representatives at the meeting also committed their agencies to set aside additional emergency standby funds.

As provided under Republic Act 8042 or the Migrant Workers Act (as amended by RA 10022), there is a P100-million emergency repatriation fund administered by OWWA, which can be used for the crisis, Undersecretary Conejos stated.

Earlier, the Philippine Government called on all parties in Egypt to maintain calm and exercise restraint.  It has likewise expressed the hope that the level of violence will not escalate, and for an early resolution of this crisis.

In line with the instructions of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and other concerned agencies to closely monitor the ongoing crisis in Egypt and to ensure the safety of Filipino community members, an inter-agency Crisis Management Committee meeting was convened Sunday afternoon at the DFA.

The DFA issued a travel advisory to Egypt which urges Filipinos who have plans to proceed to Egypt to defer non-essential and non-urgent travels, notably for tourism purposes, until the security situation has stabilized.

At the same time, the DFA has mobilized its offices in Manila and is closely monitoring developments with other government agencies.

The DFA has set up a 24-hour hotline number at the DFA-Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) for relatives of Filipinos in Egypt who would like to inquire about their relatives.  The DFA-OUMWA hotline number is 834-4580.