Filipinos attending conference in Brussels: 'We are safe'
MANILA, Philippines – A group of Filipino migrants rights advocates attending a conference in Brussels said they were safe during the string of explosions that rocked the Belgian capital's airport and a city metro station on Tuesday, March 22.
"Right now, we are safe where we are," said Rey Asis, program officer of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants (APMM), noting that at least 5 Filipino workers in the hotel he's staying in are also safe.
"They are okay, although a bit rattled" as they called their friends and relatives, Asis told Rappler in an interview via Facebook.
"We hope that the government can provide immediate assistance to the casualties and investigate this incident," Asis said.
Two explosions targeted the main hall of Zaventem Airport at around 8 am Brussels time, Tuesday, with a third hitting the Maalbeek metro station near the European Union's main buildings, just as commuters were making their way to work.
The explosions killed at least 26 people and injured 130, prompting Belgium to raise its terror threat to the maximum level.
Fear and anxiety in Brussels
Other Filipino advocates who are attending the same conference marked themselves safe on Facebook, but felt worried about the security situation in Brussels.
Beverly Longid, coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation, said the hotel advised them to stay indoors after Brussels was placed on security lockdown.
"Airport closed until 6am tomorrow. Metro stations closed. Stay in the hotel," a hotel advisory read, Longid told Rappler in a Facebook interview.
IBON International's Tetet Nera-Lauron feared the "heightened security status will be used to pick up random people," threatening "immigrants and people of color."
"People here are very anxious because this has been linked to the arrest made last week in the Molenbeek area – a working class, immigrant area – and the [Belgian authorities] linked this to the Paris attacks," Lauron noted.
The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said there have been no reports of Filipino casualties in the blast, so far.
Brussels is considered the de facto capital of the European Union. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com
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