Philippines Orders Repatriation of 2,000 Pinoys From Japan
AROUND 2,000 Filipinos will return to the Philippines by next week 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. The estimated 2,000 Filipino nationals do not include children.
“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 also 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).
The DFA chief added that the first batch of repatriation would be made on Sunday.
“What would happen is we will relocate as quickly as we can especially for those areas where the risk is at its highest,” said del Rosario.
The DFA said relocation areas are readily-available in Tokyo and south of the capital city such as Nagoya.
Japanese authorities have upgraded the nuclear crisis alert from five to seven or “major accident” on the International Nuclear Event Scale, after a review of the amount of radiation released showed unsafe levels for humans.
This level is similar to that of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which killed 32 plant workers and firefighters due to radiation exposures and from related cancers.
Del Rosario, however, clarified that the government would respect the decision of some people to remain in Japan.
“The labeling (of mandatory repatriation) is more just to tell the people on what alert level we have regarding the risks to their lives,” explained del Rosario.
As for Japanese nationals who have Filipina wives and children, the DFA chief said they may also join the flight to the Philippines but would probably have to shoulder their own fares.
“Or if he cannot afford that at that particular moment, he may have to sign something so that there is some indebtedness that we can pursue at a later date with him,” he added.
Del Rosario also said they are already coordinating with concerned government agencies to ascertain that those repatriated will undergo proper health screening.
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.