Posted at 02/02/2011 12:48 PM | Updated as of 02/02/2011 12:48 PM
MANILA, Philippines – An official of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday said that a mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in Egypt would not be necessary.
“In as much as their lives, their safety were not in imminent danger, then at least, from the assessment of our embassy, there is no need for mandatory evacuation,” DFA spokesman Ed Malaya told ABS-CBN News Channel.
Malaya clarified that although mandatory evacuation is not an immediate need, the DFA is still “honoring the requests of those who have indicated the wish to be repatriated”.
Malaya said the situation in Egypt is “brightening up” and they are noticing some very good developments.
Air, land evacuation
Despite the positive developments, the Philippine government has still laid out plans for evacuation should the need arise.
“We are looking at 2 scenarios. One is to bring those wishing to be repatriated, to bring them home by air. We may be having that in the next few days or until the weekend. Or, as an alternative, bring them by land transport to either the Israeli or Jordanian borders,” Malaya said.
He added that arrangements have been made in those governments for the safe transit of Filipinos.
Malaya said the Philippine government has responded to similar incidents that called for a mandatory evacuation of Filipinos in the past.
“We dealt with this in southern Lebanon. We dealt with this in Kuwait previously and we have a mandatory evacuation there because the situation was that of an armed conflict or war. What we have here is a civil disturbance. It is practically a struggle for political power among Egyptians,” he said.
He further explained that in the past, only a small percentage of Filipinos, whom the government asked to evacuate, actually consented to be evacuated.
“We need to respect the general sentiment of our community. But if anyone feels that his life is at risk, all they need to do is to communicate with the Philippine Embassy and arrangements will be made for them to be relocated to a safer place in Egypt itself or for them to be repatriated to the Philippines,” said the spokesman.
The more than 6,500 Filipinos in Egypt are mostly based in the country’s capital, Cairo, and in Alexandria.
“What we need to have is not an over-reaction, also not be an under-reaction, but just the appropriate response. We need to be guided as always, by experience and by history," he said.
He added that the DFA has been monitoring the crisis for almost a week now. They also empathize with the anxiety felt by relatives in the Philippines.
“To us, what we need to check upon, how are Filipinos in Egypt feeling about the situation whether to them there is a need for them to be relocated to a safer place in Egypt or for them to be repatriated to the Philippines,” he said.