Sixty foreign nationals, mostly Australians, left Negros Oriental on a repatriation flight from the Sibulan-Dumaguete airport to the Mactan Cebu International Airport over the weekend.
The so-called sweeper flight of the Philippine Airlines was arranged by the Australian Embassy in the Philippines, said Dumaguete Tourism Officer Jacqueline Antonio.
Antonio said this is part of a series of repatriation trips organized by several government agencies, led by the Provincial Tourism Office and the Dumaguete Tourism Office.
The sweeper flight arrived here at around 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and departed at past 2 p.m. after having undergone the necessary processes and health protocols, said Mark Diamaoden, airport manager and chief of the local Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) here.
The aircraft did not carry inbound passengers, he said.
Present during the screening and boarding procedure of the repatriated foreigners were officials and representatives from the Integrated Provincial Health Office, Department of Foreign Affairs, Provincial and City Tourism offices, CAAP-Dumaguete, and the Philippine National Police, among others.
Upon departure, the PAL flight had four crew members and 60 other people on board.
Provincial Tourism Officer Myla Mae Bromo said the repatriated foreign nationals included 26 Australians, while the others were from the United States of America, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, Canada, and Israel.
Over 1,000 foreign nationals have already left the province since March 17, a day after the entire Luzon was placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and flights were canceled thereafter, Antonio said.
Since then, there have been 21 repatriation trips as a result of joint efforts of the foreign embassies, the local government units, Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Ports Authority, CAAP, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police, and the Department of Health, she said.
Antonio said foreigners who are still in the province continue to call the Provincial Tourism Office and the City Tourism Office for assistance, after Negros Oriental was also placed under a 14-day ECQ on April 3 but was extended to April 30.
Since then, the province’s borders have been totally sealed and travel by air, land, and sea was canceled.
“So they chartered planes to pick them up at the Dumaguete airport, Bacolod airport, or (via) the Philippine Coast Guard boats that would ferry them to the Mactan International Airport,” Antonio said.
Meanwhile, approximately 150 foreigners of different nationalities are still in Negros Oriental and have chosen to stay, Antonio said.
Some have been here a few months, others more than a year, and they are either tourists, employed here, or residing in Negros Oriental, she said.
For those residing in Dumaguete, the hotels/Air BnB/landlord/landlady at which they are staying are taking care of them, while more foreign nationals live in neighboring towns and cities, she said.
Those with their own residences have their own quarantine pass so they can be allowed to leave their homes on certain days to access their necessities and other essentials, Antonio added. (PNA)