By Alyssa Nicole O. Tan, Reporter
THE PHILIPPINE government on Monday said it would provide employment, cash and livelihood aid to returning Filipino migrant workers from Ukraine, where it had enforced a mandatory evacuation after it was invaded by Russia on Feb. 24.
“While they are searching for work, we can also refer them to registered employers who have approved job offers if they want to work abroad,” Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard P. Olalia told an online news briefing on Monday in mixed English and Filipino.
The workers will get $200 in cash aid and may avail themselves of scholarships for their children, and entrepreneurial training, he said.
Russia has launched a devastating attack by air, land, and sea on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people. President Vladimir Putin denied for months he would invade his neighbor, but then tore up a peace deal and sent forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east and south.
While most land-based Filipinos have been evacuated, about 200 seafarers remained in Ukraine, Mr. Olalia said. The agency has repatriated more than 100 sea-based migrant Filipinos, while about 140 will soon arrive in the Philippines. Most seafarers were aboard merchant ships in the Black Sea.
Meanwhile, Senator Aquilino Martin “Koko” L. Pimentel III, who heads the foreign relations committee, said President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s decision to open the country’s military facilities to the United States was uncalled for.
The government should avoid entertaining the possibility of being part of the war, he told an online forum. “Right now, our position is neutral, our concern is for our fellow Filipinos to be able to return here safely,” he said in Filipino.
The Philippines has voted yes to a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It sought an end to the fighting and appealed for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
“Actually, we are not siding with one country. We are siding with the end of military action,” Mr. Pimentel said.
Meanwhile, the Philippines and the US signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic civil nuclear cooperation, the Foreign Affairs department said in a statement.
“To ensure a resilient, inclusive and green economic growth for the Philippines, we need to intensify our work in securing reliable and sustainable energy sources, including nuclear energy,” Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in the statement.
“Through our cooperation, we hope to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy and fulfill our decarbonization goals.”
The government would intensify collaboration with the US to enhance the country’s knowledge and understanding of nuclear infrastructure, Energy Undersecretary Gerardo D. Erguiza said in the statement.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has signed an order allowing the country to tap nuclear power as an alternative energy source.