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World | National

Filipina who helped shepherd 25 OFWs out of war-torn Syria coming home
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA, Philippines  – A female overseas Filipino worker who was instrumental in getting Filipino domestic workers out of war-torn Homs and Latakia in Syria, will soon be back home.

Alma Bella Guiao will arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday, March 22, onboard Etihad Airlines flight EY 424 from Damascus. Since last year, Guiao has brought at least 25 overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from Homs and Latakia to the Philippine Embassy in Damascus. 

"We commend Ms. Guiao for her unyielding courage and perseverance in saving fellow OFWs caught in the conflict-stricken governorate of Homs. She is a role model for the Filipino community in Syria because of her steadfast dedication in getting Filipino household service workers out of harm’s way," said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Albert F. del Rosario. "She is an example of a Filipino who is truly patriotic and dedicated to the service of her fellow Filipinos." 

Guiao will be with nine other female OFWs who availed of the Philippine government's repatriation program. The International Organization for Migration in Damascus provided for the plane tickets of all the returning OFWs.

Four of the OFWs will be repatriated directly from the Kaffarseuseh prison in Damascus. Their cases were handled by the Embassy who made representations with concerned Syrian government agencies. 

The six other OFWs, including Guiao, were temporarily sheltered at the Embassy's Halfway House while negotiations with their Syrian employers and with Syrian authorities were conducted by the Embassy for the immediate issuance of their exit visas. 

A Rapid Response Team, composed of representatives from the DFA,  Department of Labor and Employment and Department of Interior and Local Government, remains in Syria to help out in the repatriation of Filipino nationals from Syria's conflict-stricken areas, especially in the governorates of Homs, Hama, Idlib and Dara’a. 

The DFA raised its Alert Level to 4 over Syria on December 22, triggering the mandatory repatriation of all Filipinos in the country. The Philippines will shoulder the expenses for the repatriation efforts.