MANILA – The Russian Embassy in Manila on Thursday night thanked the Philippine government for helping repatriate some 650 Russian nationals affected by the community quarantine imposed in different parts of the country,
"No Embassy in the world has its own boats or airplanes. Therefore, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Philippine Government because the Department of National Defense (DND) and Hon. Secretary Carlito Galvez shouldered the flights and ships that took our compatriots from Davao, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Dumaguete, Camiguin, Siquijor and many other places to the evacuation airports," he told the Philippine News Agency.
Due to the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), domestic flights have been suspended, leaving a number of Filipino and foreign tourists stranded in different parts of the country.
Khovaev said two special flights, operated by Russian air companies, repatriated 650 of their nationals.
The first one took off from the Mactan Cebu International Airport on March 26, while the other from the Kalibo International Airport on March 31.
Aside with Galvez, Khovaev also conveyed Russia's gratitude to DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr., and the local governments for facilitating the Russians' evacuation.
Spirit of friendship
He also recalled the rescue of Capt. Alexander Solodyannikov who was given urgent medical aid despite the ECQ.
The Russian seafarer reportedly suffered "an attack of an unknown respiratory syndrome" onboard the tanker Asphalt Transporter while en route to Australia. He was eventually diagnosed with asthma in a hospital in Metro Manila.
"Just like the evacuation of Russian tourists, the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) was a great help in coordinating the transfer of the seriously ill Captain from Mindanao to Manila. I am pleased to say that Mr. Solodyannikov, A.V. is currently in no danger. His condition was treated in a highly professional way," Khovaev said.
Solodyannikov has been discharged from the hospital and is waiting for his repatriation flight in a Metro Manila hotel.
Khovaev said the rescue is a "striking example of bilateral cooperation under crisis conditions in the spirit of friendship and partnership" between Manila and Moscow.
"Once again, I sincerely thank Hon. Secretary Teodoro Locsin and Hon. Secretary Carlito Galvez for their help with this rescue operation. Speed was of the essence in this particular case and we would have never managed to secure necessary permissions without their endorsements," he said. (PNA)