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Gov’t ready to repatriate all Pinoys in Japan if needed

MANILA, Mar 17 (Mabuhay) – The Department of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said the government is ready to repatriate all Filipinos staying in Japan once the Philippine government deems it necessary to repatriate all Filipinos there.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the embassy is now at crisis level 2 in Japan, which means that Filipinos are encouraged to consider voluntary departure on their own.

He said the government will arrange and pay for voluntary repatriation once the situation reaches crisis level 3.

“If we go to crisis level 3, that becomes the government’s responsibility. There are about, in our estimate, 300,000 Filipinos in Japan, 200,000 of whom are in Tokyo. The government is prepared to absorb the total cost of repatriation if we go to crisis level 3,” he said.

Del Rosario said the crisis level will be based on the number of factors including information from the Japanese government and on-ground assessment and judgment of Embassy staff.

“We are sending senior officials who will help in making this assessment and this deployment of additional people will also ascertain the revalidation of the contingency plans that we put in place,” he said.

A 9.0-magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami on Friday caused catastrophic damage to Japan’s northeast coast, with police reporting that more than 11,000 people are dead or missing.

It also badly damaged a nuclear power plant 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, leading to a series of explosions and fires that have unleashed potentially dangerous levels of radiation.

The threat of radiation poisoning triggered moves by some foreign governments, including China and some in Europe, to start evacuating their citizens.

The Philippines said it had no immediate plans to begin mass evacuations, saying it would follow the advice of Japanese authorities who have insisted harmful doses of radiation have only affected areas close to the plant.

“If, as determined by Japanese officials, relocation and repatriation become necessary, the Philippine government will (then) defray the cost to undertake the required measures,” a foreign ministry statement said.

The Philippine government said Wednesday an Air Force plane would help some Filipinos escape the nuclear and quake crisis in Japan, but that there was no mass evacuation plan for all 300,000 Filipinos there.

The C-130 plane would fly basic supplies such as water and instant noodles to Filipinos stranded in Japan, then take out some who wanted to flee, President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman said.

“For those who would want to leave Japan but have no means, the C-130 could be used to bring them home,” spokesman Edward Lacierda told reporters. (MNS)

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