Medical referral patients stuck in the Philippines may soon be able to return to the CNMI following the Philippine Airlines’ resumption of flights to Guam beginning June 12, Friday.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, CNMI medical patients and their escorts have remained stuck in the Philippines, and have been waiting for the airlines to resume operations.
“We have our patients on a reserved ticket,” Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said during the a radio press briefing last Friday. “The first flight out, we do have our patients that are eligible to come back on standby.”
The governor acknowledged that it is unfortunate that there are no international flights out of the Philippines, and assured the patients and escorts stuck in the country, that funds are reserved for them for the flights that are available.
“Again, the first flight out will be definitely booked, but we’re trying our very best to get everybody that’s eligible and that can travel to come back home,” he said.
Torres also revealed that he, too, has a family member who is unable to return to the CNMI either, and that he feels for all the patients and escorts who cannot return home. “But they also got to stay safe and continue to practice social distancing over there. …I do feel for them. I want them to continue to be strong. We are doing everything we can to make sure that they get back home safe, on the first flight out, or what is available.”
He did not specify how many CNMI residents are stranded in Manila.
In a statement, Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said that the U.S. State Department has worked hard to help set up special flights and provide information on how to get special travel documents needed during the pandemic.
“U.S. citizens and green card holders from the Marianas are strongly encouraged to contact the American embassy in Manila, informing them of their presence in the Philippines and providing information on how they could be reached in case plans to reopen flights are made, or for other assistance,” Sablan added.
Northern Marianas constituents who need further assistance or information are also advised to contact their medical referral liaison or write Sablan at firstname.lastname@example.org.