PH gov’t working to bring home 25-year-old Pinay, 7 others jailed in Myanmar

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MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs said that the Philippine government is providing legal representation to bring home the eight Filipinos currently detained in Myanmar as soon as possible.

DFA spokesperson Ma. Teresita Daza said in a statment that the department is continuing to assist them, including tourist 25-year-old Kiela Samson who was arrested at the border of Thailand and Myanmar last month.

An ABS CBN News report earlier said that Samson and her tourist friends were lured to cross the border from Mae Sot City in Thailand to Myawaddy, Myanmar.

She also claimed that she and her companions did not know that foreigners are not allowed to cross the Thailand-Myanmar border.

Based on Myanmar’s policy, foreigners are only allowed to enter the country through Yangon, Mandalay and Napyidaw airports.

Kiela’s last video call with her family was on Jan. 19 inside the police station.

ABS-CBN News also quoted the family as saying they have asked the assistance of Philippine Embassy in Yangon.

However they were told that local authorities reportedly prevented Philippine diplomats from entering the town due to insurgency in the area.

Daza has told reporters that even embassy officials were prevented from entering the area because of the insurgency in the area.

“The Philippine Embassy in Yangon maintains active and regular contact with Myanmar’s law enforcement authorities in Nay Pyi Taw and Myawaddy to secure the safety and well-being of the said Filipinos and assist them in returning home the soonest time possible,” she said.

Daza said the Filipinos could exit Myanmar after completing the processes of law enforcement agencies, primarily immigration.

Myanmar authorities, she said, had also vowed to cooperate with Manila in this regard.

Among the eight are alleged human trafficking victims who were rescued by Myanmar authorities from their worksites in Myawaddy.

On Monday, Daza has called on Filipinos who want to work abroad to follow government regulations and be duly registered as overseas Filipino workers instead of leaving the country as tourists.

“Recruiters who promise Filipinos jobs abroad, if they pretend to be tourists and evade our controls, are just leading our kababayans (compatriots) to dangerous situations where it may be very difficult to secure their safety and assist them in returning home,” she stated.