The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has placed the situation in Myanmar on Alert Level 4 due to the worsening situation of the COVID-19 pandemic there.
In a Facebook post, the Philippine Embassy in Yangon said it had raised the alert level in Myanmar for the safety and welfare of the remaining Filipinos there.
“Under Alert Level 4, the Department of Foreign Affairs strongly recommends that Filipinos leave Myanmar as soon as possible, as the healthcare system in the country is close to reaching its maximum capacity and may not be able to provide adequate medical attention to Filipinos who become ill in the coming weeks,” said the embassy.
However, Ambassador Eduardo Kapunan Jr. said that most Filipinos in Myanmar want to stay there despite the repatriation assistance provided to them.
In the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, Kapunan said that there are approximately 500 Filipinos in Myanmar. About 150 are registered at the embassy, and only 59 want to return to the Philippines.
Envoy: Filipinos in Myanmar want to stay despite repatriation program
“We are still looking for the other Filipinos, but the feedback we are getting is they do not want to report to the embassy because they do not want to be evacuated out of Myanmar because being evacuated right now means they cannot go back until Alert Level 4 is lifted by the Department of Foreign Affairs,” said Kapunan.
“The Filipinos have good-paying jobs here. If they leave, they won’t have a job, and that would leave them very uncertain,” he added.
According to Kapunan, there are not enough health workers in Myanmar to treat patients. Many health workers allegedly joined the civil disobedience movement in protest of the junta-led government that ousted elected officials led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi on March 1.
“The health workers are not coming back since they fear of getting arrested or detained, so those with mild COVID-19 cases are being sent home to recover there. Problem is, some of these patients get worse,” the official said.