MANILA (DWDD) – The Philippines expressed its deep sadness and sympathies to island-nations in the Caribbean over the loss of lives and the untold destruction that Hurricane Irma left in its wake.
“The Philippines is saddened by the devastation unleashed by Hurricane Irma and offers its sympathies and prayers to our friends in the various island-nations of the Caribbean who had to go throw ugh this cataclysm,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said.
“We thank God that our kababayans in the Caribbean have been spared and we continue to pray that those still in the path of Irma be kept safe,” Secretary Cayetano said after he was informed that there are no Filipinos among the 21 reported fatalities in the storm’s rampage across the region.
Secretary Cayetano issued the statement even as the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. placed a team on standby for deployment to the storm-devastated British Virgin Islands to assist Filipinos there who have requested emergency assistance.
Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto said coordination is being made with British authorities for a team to bring relief supplies and arrange for the repatriation of those among the 264 Filipinos in the island who may want to return to the Philippines.
Chargé d’Affaires Chuasoto said the Filipinos there were able to make contact with the Embassy to report that they are having difficulty securing food, water, and shelter.
“We are constantly trying to establish and maintain communication with members of the Filipino Community in the disaster-stricken areas,” Chargé d’Affaires Chuasoto said
“So far we have not received any report of Filipino casualties although many of our kababayans continue to suffer from power outages, decreasing supplies and damage to property and loss of important documents, including passports,” he added.
Among the severely affected islands were Anguilla, Antigua, Bahamas, Barbuda, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands with a combined Filipino population of around 3,000.
Chargé d’Affaires Chuasoto, at the same time, said the Embassy had advised the close to 200,000 members of the Filipino Community in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina to comply with the evacuation orders issued by authorities.
Filipinos in North Carolina and Virginia have also been advised to take the necessary precautions after both states were placed under a state of emergency.
Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo De Vega, meanwhile, said there were also no reports of any Filipino casualties in the Dominican Republic and Cuba, which are both under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Mexico.
Quoting a report from Philippine Honorary Consul Limuel Dadulo, Ambassador De Vega said Filipinos in the affected areas of Punta Cana, Bavaro and Puerto Plata are all safe and accounted for.
In Haiti, Philippine Honorary Consul Fitzgerald Brandt reported no casualties among the close to 300 Filipinos there.
Filipino nationals in the Caribbean who were impacted by Irma and those in the United States who may need assistance can call the Embassy’s emergency hotline at +1-202-368-2767. DFA/MCAG