Taliban allows OFWs to fetch fellow Filipinos for evacuation

MANILA – Overseas Filipino worker Elmer Presa was able to exit the crisis-hit Afghanistan together with his fellow nationals after getting permission from the Taliban.

In a Facebook status on Thursday, Presa posted a photo of him and some gun-wielding men, apparently Taliban fighters for allowing them to enter Kabul’s airport.

“Thank you all for the permissions to get inside the HKIA (Hamid Karzai International Airport), Kabul Afghanistan,” he wrote.

Presa and the other Filipinos were able to hitch a ride on a United States military plane to Doha, Qatar.

In a radio interview, he shared that Taliban fighters are now manning the checkpoints around the Afghan capital’s airport.

Presa said his group was actually already inside HKIA, thanks to their boss who facilitated their access, but some of them were still stranded at the Swedish and US Embassies in Kabul where no local drivers dared to go after the hardline Islamist group seized Kabul.

“Wala na po tayong driver na naglakas loob na kunin sila at ako po ay nakiusap sabi ko sa aking boss, I will take this to get my guys. So binigyan po ako ng pahintulot (We don’t have drivers anymore who dared to fetch them so I asked my boss to allow so he gave me the permission),” he shared.

“Sabi, ‘Elmer, you are on your own, you can do whatever you want, just bring them here.’ So yun po, kaya po lumabas ako…Nakiusap po ako sa mga Taliban na sila po kasi nagco-conduct ng checkpoints. Napakadami na po nila bigla sa labas (So I went outside… I asked the Taliban because they are the ones conducting the checkpoints. There were many of them outside),” he added.

Presa, recalling their conversation, told the Taliban fighters that he will be fetching some of his fellow nationals and was given the greenlight.

“Malaya naman po akong nakakilos hanggang na-retrieve ko po yung mga tropa nating mga Pilipino (I was actually moving freely so I was able to retrieve them),” he said.

Presa said he was able to get three Filipinos just in time for a Wednesday flight at HKIA aboard a US C17 military plane.

“Sabi ko, sa salita nila, may kaibigan akong Pilipino, pwede ko ba silang kunin nang walang problema? Hinayaan po nila ako. Actually wala po tayong problema sa kanila at binigyan po ako ng opportunity kaya sinamantala ko po yung pagkakataon (In their language, I said, I have Filipino friends, can I get them? They allowed me. Actually we had no problem with them, opportunity was given to me so I took it),” he added.

Presa and his group are now in Doha, Qatar.

On Wednesday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also attempted to send two chartered flights to Kabul but both were “unsuccessful” after the cancellation of all commercial flights in the capital.

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