DBM releases P50M for repatriation of OFWs in ‘troubled Middle East’
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Tuesday said it has released an additional P50 million to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the continued repatriation of Filipinos in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Gaza.
The amount will augment the DFA’s P100-million emergency fund for conflict-ridden countries. Earlier, the agency declared crisis alert level 4, which results in a total deployment ban and mandatory repatriation of Filipinos, in the four countries.
“Our countrymen face uncertainty and danger due to the untenable security situation in these Middle East countries. As such, the National Government will focus its resources to bringing them back home, even as it shoulders all costs of their repatriation, whether by land, sea, or air,” Budget Secretary Florencio “Butch” Abad said in a statement.
The emergency fund, which is now at P150 million, was sourced from the 2013 contingent fund of the government.
Abad said the repatriation program allows the government to immediately act during emergency situations.
Meanwhile, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) “will also be expediting the necessary measures and processes to provide funds amounting to P50 million and P800 million respectively to help in the repatriation,” the statement said.
The repatriation of Filipinos from Syria had started in December 2012. A couple of months ago, Filipino peacekeepers made headlines when they engaged Syrian rebels in a seven-hour gunfight before escaping.
The government ordered the repatriation of Filipinos from the Gaza Strip and Iraq in June 2014 and in Libya in July 2014.
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