MANILA: The Philippine Navy’s Naval Task Force 82, which consists BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16), on Friday made a brief stop in Colombo, Sri Lanka to pick up 12 more Filipino tourists and overseas workers stranded there due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
In a statement Saturday, Lt. Commander Maria Christina Roxas, Philippine Navy (PN) public affairs office chief, said the 12 repatriates are certified and tested negative for Covid-19 before being allowed to board the BRP Davao del Sur.
“The onboarding process was similar to the protocols observed during the earlier repatriation of 18 Filipinos in India. They are placed in an isolated room separate from the first batch with strict and round-the-clock monitoring by a medical team,” she said.
Roxas said the voyage from Cochin, India to Sri Lanka was also a validation for newly-repaired BRP Ramon Alcaraz engine room that caught fire shortly after leaving the Indian port on May 7.
Repairs to the ship were completed on May 27. Following this, Alcaraz and the Davao del Sur, which initially proceeded alone on May 9 but was forced to seek shelter anew in Cochin due to heavy weather caused by Cyclone “Amphan” that battered eastern India and Bangladesh.
“All its (BRP Ramon Alcaraz) systems are up and running and can sustain longer travel. The two PN vessels will immediately set sail directly to South Harbor, Manila upon completion of water and fuel replenishment,” she said.
The two ships were deployed to Oman last February as a contingency measure should a large evacuation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) be needed following tensions between the United States and Iran.
They sailed from Sultan Qaboos, Oman last April 21 and arrived in India on April 29 to fetch a donation of 200,000 pieces of face masks from a Filipino businessman based in the country, as well as Filipino tourists who were stranded due to the Covid-19 outbreak.