An Aboriginal father says he has been left stranded in a country where the military is using its powers to keep people in their homes after the federal government rejected his application for an emergency loan to book his airfare back to Australia.
Noongar man Jason Cox arrived in the Philippines on March 13 to visit his wife and daughters, and help his wife bring his daughters over to Australia.
Mr Cox told NITV News that during his commute over there, he didn't hear any warnings from the Australian government about the severity of the COVID-19 situation nor did he see any signs in the airports.
"I didn't think it would be that bad here, there wasn't any warnings from the Australian government that the Philippines were as bad it was over here," said Mr Cox.
"I started noticing at the airport that there wasn't as many people there, it was pretty bare," he said.
Five days after Mr Cox arrived in the Philippines the Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announced his ban on all non-Australian residents entering Australia, essentially closing the country's borders.
Since last month thousands of Australians have been left stranded aboard. On April 9 Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne released a statement stating the government will continue to support Australians aboard and help them get home.
Traveller Emergency Loans (TEL) are available for people who are "exceptional circumstances only", and have explored all options.
Mr Cox said he had applied for a TEL, but received an email from a government representative stating that his application was rejected, and to seek support from friends and family instead.
"I've been going through a lot of heartaches because I've been missing my boys back in Australia. I was only supposed to go for a little bit, but now I'm here for a long stretch," Mr Cox said.
"It is stressful knowing I can't go anywhere. I'm stuck in here inside the house, and I'm a bit too scared to go cos I might get arrested," he said.
Last weekend, three flights left the Philippines carrying 829 passengers including Australians and other foreigners.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade spokesperson told NITV News Australian consular officials are working around the clock to assist Australians overseas.
"Where Australians are in genuine need because there are no commercial flight options or because countries have closed their borders, we are in consultation with governments, travel companies and the airline industry to help Australians find ways to get home," the spokesperson said.
"We understand this is a difficult and stressful situation and we strongly recommend that Australians follow the directions and advice of local authorities, and continue to monitor www.smartraveller.gov.au and the social media account of the closest Australian diplomatic mission."
The next mercy flight was scheduled to leave on Friday has been cancelled due to "a range of logistical reasons", the Embassy said they are working on making new arrangements.
Australians requiring consular assistance can contact the local Australian Embassy, high commission or consulate or call DFAT's Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 153 from Australia or +61 6261 3305 from overseas.