“It is a puzzle to us why it took the embassy three days before it could finally send a consular mission to Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, the two provinces that suffered the most, when all of us were already terrified thinking what could be the fate of our fellow Filipinos there,” Migrante Japan said in a statement, “How can they sleep for three straight nights without worrying about Filipinos in Japan, many of whom could be trapped somewhere injured or dying and without food or water.”
As for the case of the 20 seafarers, Rossana Tapiru of Migrante’s local chapter in Nagoya said they were contacted by the family of one of the seafarers, asking for the group’s assistance after learning that their relatives were trapped and were seriously injured. Tapiru, in a statement, said she immediately informed the embassy but were told that they have already heard of the report and that “they were stepping in to help the trapped victims.”
But when Tapiru phoned the seafarers, they told her that “no one from the embassy had contacted them, and that Filipinos in the area, in fact, were the ones to offer them immediate assistance.”
They said that as early as the afternoon of March 11 when the earthquake hit Japan, “distressed calls began trickling in but embassy officials were nowhere in sight.
“Then, over media interviews, Ambassador Lopez had the nerve to present to media a list of missing Filipinos which was obviously copied from our website. It was us who painstakingly collected those data to help our Filipino compatriots and their anxious families,” Nestor Puno of Migrante Japan said.
He added that while the Philippine government is free to use any information they have gathered, it should not be used to conceal the fact that they are not doing their job. Puno said that it showed “how inutile our embassy officials have been throughout this whole ordeal.”
Puno said that Lopez’s decision to evacuate embassy personnel and dependents in Tokyo is “the most heartbreaking news we have heard so far.”
He said that they could not “fathom this serious act of betrayal and cowardice” when many Filipino communities such as Sagip Migrante Centers located in Nagoya and Tokyo are operating 24 hours monitoring the conditions of Filipinos and extending assistance . “Lopez is clearly running away from us, betraying his constitutional duty to help and protect us in grave times like this,” Puno said.
During the recent protest action commemorating the death of Flor Contemplacion, an OFW who was executed in Singapore 16 years ago, Dr. Genevieve Reyes of the Health Alliance for Democracy related that her cousin who lives in Japan went to the Philippine embassy to inquire about the government’s evacuation plan in case of a nuclear reactor meltdown but were told to go home.
Reyes said the reply of the embassy official to her cousin was, “For now, it is just a possibility. Let us talk when we get there.”
Puno said Philippine embassy officials in Tokyo are a “bunch of useless, insensitive and inept officials who sleep while on duty, exact heavy financial burden on us and betray us in times of our needs.”
“We call on the DFA and President Benigno S. Aquino III to immediately recall Lopez for his recent decision to order the evacuation of embassy personnel because it is detrimental to the overall safety and well being of our people,” Puno said, “We do not want him anymore because he spells danger to all of us.”
Martinez, for his part, said they are supporting Migrante Japan’s demand for Lopez’s recall.
“As the probability of a nuclear meltdown becomes evident every passing hour, President Aquino must not waste time,” Puno said, “He must step in and instruct his people in Japan to act swiftly and judiciously before it is too late. If things go wrong and something bad happens to our fellow Filipinos, we will lay the blame on him.”