March 16 ------ The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Sunday said a total of 444 Filipino crewmembers and passengers of cruise ship M/V Grand Princess will be repatriated back to the Philippines via San Francisco. Officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate in San Francisco were on the ground in Oakland on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to facilitate the repatriation process of the Filipinos composed of 438 crew members and six passengers of the cruise ship which was recently held off the coast of San Francisco after several individuals onboard had tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The repatriates are expected to arrive at the Haribon hangar in Clark City on Monday morning. Upon arrival, they will be transported on buses to the Athletes’ Village under the care of the Department of Health personnel. According to the DFA, the remaining 91 Filipino crewmembers opted to remain onboard Gran Princess to comprise the Minimum Safe Manning and Minimum Operational Manning teams. Consul General to San Francisco Henry Bensurto Jr. led the repatriation team who secured clearances and permits for the disembarkation, as well as land transfer to the chartered plane parked at the San Francisco International Airport.
Prior to disembarking from the cruise ship, the Filipino repatriates underwent health screening facilitated by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and did not manifest any symptoms. “Today, a total of 444 Filipinos aboard MV Grand Princess will be repatriated from San Francisco, USA. The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco staff and personnel were on the ground to ensure the facilitation of the repatriation of our kababayan and bring them safely back to the Philippines,” the DFA said in the statement. From the total of 538 Filipino crewmembers and nine passengers onboard the Bahamas-flagged cruise ship, 13 of those were declared COVID-19 positive and were put in unspecified health facilities in the US.