By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora

Pres. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Ukraine Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskyy

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for ensuring the safe passage of Filipino repatriates at the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

In an official statement on the two leaders’ Feb. 13 phone conversation, the DFA said Marcos reiterated that the Philippines would continue to support the “peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ukraine.”

“President Marcos underscored the Philippines’ support for previous UN resolutions reaffirming the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine and other UN member states,” the DFA said.

“The President also conveyed his gratitude to President Zelenskyy for ensuring the safe passage of Filipino nationals who were repatriated from Ukraine during the conflict,” it added.

Quoting Zelenskyy as saying, the DFA said the Ukrainian leader thanked Marcos for the support and Manila’s “clear” position on the conflict.

“The Ukrainian President requested for continued Philippine support in the United Nations and other related fora. He expressed hope for the future of Philippines-Ukraine relations, as Ukraine considers the Philippines a strategic partner in the region,” it said.

The phone call was the first of its kind between the two leaders since Marcos assumed the presidency in June last year.

Based on the latest DFA data, a total of 451 distressed Filipinos were assisted since the war started, 397 of whom have been repatriated to the Philippines while 54 others were evacuated to other countries.

There are about 380 Filipinos staying in Ukraine as of June 2022. (PNA)