CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Foreigners stranded in some parts of Northern Mindanao due to the implementation of the community quarantine all over the country were flown out of the Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental on Wednesday, tourism officials said Thursday (March 26).
Among those who were assisted were eight Russian nationals, who have stayed in Bukidnon for quite some time, said Chaisa Duguilme, the city tourism officer.
Duguilme said the stranded foreigners consisted of two families who arrived here from Bukidnon in two batches.
The first to arrive Wednesday evening was a mother and her two children, she said, adding the rest of the Russians arrived early Thursday.
Also on Wednesday, two Russian nationals from Cebu flew into Cagayan de Oro to join their compatriots in flying out, she said.
Duguilme assured that the foreigners have no medical condition and showed no signs of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptoms.
She said the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team (BHERT) from Barangay 26 screened the tourists including thermal screening and information gathering.
“They (BHERT) went to through the process of checking the foreigners,” Duguilme said.
Duguilme also clarified that the Russians did not come from Davao City but from Bukidnon.
She said the group wanted to go to Davao to take a plane for Manila, but they could not proceed as non-residents were not allowed to enter the city prompting them to proceed to Cagayan de Oro instead.
It was not immediately known when the foreigners first arrived in Bukidnon.
Since the Russians could not speak English, Duguilme said they got in touch with the Russian Embassy in Manila to act as interpreter for the stranded foreigners.
According to Arturo Boncato Jr., Department of Tourism (DOT) undersecretary for Tourism Regulation, Coordination and Resource, Generation, there were 229 stranded tourists in Northern Mindanao per the agency’s latest data.
In his March 24 letter to Misamis Oriental Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano, Boncato has requested the provincial government allow an airline to take the foreigners to Manila on Wednesday.
“As part of our efforts in ensuring that every tourist is brought back to their homeland safely, the Department of Tourism has been facilitating recovery flights in areas with large number of stranded visitors,” reads a part of Boncato’s letter.
Ariel Paderan, Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines information for Northern Mindanao, said 150 stranded foreigners flew out of the Laguindingan Airport on Wednesday afternoon.
He said they took the 2:40 p.m. flight onboard the Cebu Pacific plane bound for Manila.
Paderan said the passengers consisted of mixed nationalities including Russians, French, Koreans, Canadians, Americans, and some Filipinos who have changed their citizenship. (davaotoday.com)