Philippines orders repatriation of 2,000 Pinoys from Japan

04/15/2011 -AROUND 2,000 Filipinos are expected to return to the Philippines beginning Sunday following the mandatory repatriation order of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario said the forced repatriation of Filipinos living within the 50-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant came after the Japanese government raised the nuclear emergency in Japan to a maximum level of seven.Del Rosario added that the Philippine government has also decided to conduct repatriation efforts in the next 50-kilometer radius.

“As a precautionary measure, the Philippines would additionally be declaring a voluntary repatriation for those from the 50-kilometer to 100-kilometer radius,” said del Rosario.

He clarified that the government would respect the decision of some people to remain in Japan.

He assured that the Philippine government will shoulder the full cost of repatriation of the Filipino nationals, including the charting of flights that may cost them about $200,000 (P8.6 million).

Japanese nationals who have Filipina wives and children may also join the flight to the Philippines but would have to shoulder their own fares, said del Rosario.

“…Or he may have to sign something so that there is some indebtedness that we can pursue at a later date with him,” he added.

The DFA chief said the first batch of repatriation would be made on Sunday. The estimated 2,000 Filipino nationals do not include children.

He also said the Foreign Affairs department is already coordinating with concerned government agencies to ascertain that those repatriated will undergo proper health screening.

Meanwhile, relocation of Filipinos from the affected areas would also be made sooner, said del Rosario, adding that relocation sites are located in Tokyo and in the south of the capital city, such as Nagoya.

Japanese authorities on Tuesday have upgraded the nuclear crisis alert from five to seven, which is equivalent to a "major accident" on the International Nuclear Event Scale, after a review of the amount of radiation released showed unsafe levels for humans.

The alert level seven is similar to that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which killed 32 plant workers and firefighters due to radiation exposures.

Since the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last March 11, Philippine Embassy staff has been sneaking Filipinos out of the radiation-affected communities in Fukushima.

Buses fetch hundreds of Filipinos as emergency response teams continue to bring relief goods such as bananas, canned goods, bread, rice balls, mango juice, and chocolate milk drinks.
(Sun Star)

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