Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) – June 2, 2021 – 00h00
MANILA, Philippines – A short-haired domestic cat named Jon Snow White is the first pet to be repatriated to the Philippines due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Karen Vinalay, a Filipino overseas worker, artistic director for 10 years in Myanmar, wrote to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. asking that she and her cat be rescued due to the current political situation.
She informed Locsin that the Philippine Embassy in Myanmar had rejected her request to include pets on the rescue plane that would bring the Filipinos home.
“It hurts me when the Philippine Embassy here rejected my request along with the other Filipinos working here to bring our pets with us on the rescue plane that the government will provide,” Vinalay said in his letter of 10 May 2021 in Locsin posted on Twitter.
“Maybe they appreciate the importance of pets less for people who have been away from home just to make a living in a foreign country,” she said.
The secretary instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to coordinate the inclusion of Vinalay’s pet in the repatriation flight.
“Hi Karen, please send us a DM with your contact details so we can help you. Thank you, ”Locsin said in a Twitter post.
Vinalay, along with her cat, was among 55 Filipinos from Myanmar, Cambodia and Thailand repatriated by the Philippine Embassy in Yangon on May 29 on a special chartered sweep flight.
The repatriation flight was organized to help Filipinos stranded in Myanmar due to the unavailability of commercial flights caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the repatriated Filipinos resided in Yangon. Six came from Thahtay Kyun Island in Thanintharyi region (1275 km from Yangon) who had to travel by sea to Kawthaung and then by plane just to reach Yangon for the flight.
This is the fifth government-funded repatriation flight since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 16th flight organized by the Philippine Embassy to repatriate Filipinos from Yangon.