No Filipinos taking up offer to flee from Libya turmoil
MANILA, Philippines–Despite the beheading of a Filipino worker in Libya by Sunni extremists, there are so far no takers to the government’s offer to repatriate 13,000 Filipinos there for free.
At a news briefing on Tuesday, Assistant Foreign Secretary Charles Jose, spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs, said that the DFA hotlines were burning from calls of families of Filipino workers in Libya seeking help in bringing their loved ones home but the agency has not received any report from the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli of new registrants for repatriation.
He said most of the Filipinos in Libya continue to work to this day “and that was why they do not want to go home.”
“Most of them are working with big companies… from the oil industry to construction and medical groups. Their employers can assure their safety,” Jose said, acknowledging this could be the reason why no one has lined up for repatriation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs raised the alert in Libya to the highest level 4 after the kidnapping and beheading of the Filipino construction worker in Benghazi on July 15, reportedly because he was not a Muslim.
Alert level 4 calls for the mandatory evacuation of all Filipinos due to the worsening political and security situation there.
Jose said so far those who have registered were 202 Filipinos whose repatriation has been pending for some time now because of difficulty of obtaining exit visas from the Libyan government. The 202 are either sheltered in the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli or in their homes.
Jose acknowledged the problem of obtaining exit visas for Filipinos wanting to go home but was certain they were now finding ways to get them.
He reiterated the plan was for Filipinos to be evacuated via land route through Egypt or Tunisia before flying home.
“We continue to call on overseas Filipino workers to avail of the repatriation of the government where the government will pay the cost for repatriation.
The Department of Labor and Employment estimates that only 10 percent would likely return to the Philippines to heed the government’s call for a mandatory repatriation.
“The estimate is that maybe only about 10 percent will opt to return home. So that’s about 1,300 estimated overseas Filipinos coming home,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz told reporters.
Many OFWs do not want to leave their jobs in Libya, said Baldoz, quoting Philippine labor officials in the strife-torn country.–-With a report by Tina Santos