MANILA, Aug 8 (Mabuhay) — Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said Saturday that the DFA is paying P15 million from the agency’s funds for chartered flights to repatriate Filipinos affected by deadly and devastating blast in Beirut, Lebanon.

In his tweet, Secretary Locsin also said the expected arrival of the chartered Qatar Air flight is on August 16.

Four Filipinos have been reported killed in a huge blast in Beirut last Tuesday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III last Friday said the Philippine government is planning to repatriate on August 20 the remains of the four dead.

Apart from the four, around 100 other overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Lebanon who have signified their intention to leave will also be joining the flight back home.

Earlier, the DFA reported that the number of Filipinos killed in the explosion increased to four, while 31 have been reported injured.

Philippine Embassy Charge d’Affaires Ajeet Panemanglor said two other Filipinos remain in critical condition.

The massive explosion in Beirut said to be have been triggered by ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse for years, killed at least 135 people and injured 5,000 others.

Meanwhile, in an press release on Saturday, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his call for the creation Department of Overseas Filipinos so that the government would be able to assist distressed Filipinos abroad timely and comprehensively.

Go expressed appreciation for the swift response of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut to the situation and request for assistance to Filipinos in Lebanon’s capital Beirut.

“Bukod sa mga problemang hinaharap natin sa bansa, bigyang prayoridad rin natin ang pag-alaga sa kapakanan ng ating mga kababayan na apektado ng iba’t ibang krisis sa ibang bansa, tulad ng nangyari sa Beirut,” Go said.

“Kailangan ng mas agarang serbisyo, lalong-lalo na sa distressed Filipinos,” he further appealed.

The Senator pointed out that the crises happening in other countries may result to more OFWs being compelled to return to the Philippines. Given this, concerned agencies must make sure that these affected overseas Filipinos are accounted for, provided immediate aid and, if necessary, be repatriated back home. (MNS)

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