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Filipino worker in Libya realizes it’s time to leave

/ 11:54 PM April 25, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The morning after a Filipino worker in Libya knew his family in the quake-stricken province of Pampanga was safe, a loud explosion caused by the escalating violence in the African country made him realize it was time to leave.

Elmer Cato, Chargé d’Affaires at the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, shared the story of 49-year-old Enrique Guiao in his Facebook post late Thursday.

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“Everyday for the past three weeks, Enrique Guiao would wake up at 5:30 a.m. He would join six other Filipinos in climbing out of the bunker where they had been spending their nights in since fighting broke out in the outskirts of Tripoli on April 4,” Cato wrote.

“On Tuesday morning the 49-year-old Guiao stayed in bed a little longer than usual. He was up the whole night worrying about his family in Pampanga who he could not reach hours after it was struck by a magnitude 6.1 earthquake. He only went to sleep after he was able to reach his wife who assured him his family back home was safe,” he added.

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Cato said that at past 5:30 a.m., a loud explosion awakened “Guiao and his companions.”

While Guiao and his co-workers are used to the sounds of explosions in the conflict-stricken country, Cato said these Filipino workers sensed a different level of danger.

“All of them are old-timers in Tripoli and are accustomed to the daily tit-for-tat of artillery and heavy weapons that the conflict in Libya is known for. But this one was dangerously close. It was unusually loud,” he wrote.

“Moments later, Guiao heard shouts from some of their companions outside. One then came rushing back in and confirmed the explosion,” he added.

Cato narrated that Guiao rushed out of the bunker. Two others followed, one of whom was wounded in his right foot.

“It was the company cook who he always goes up with to the kitchen without fail after waking up every morning,” Cato said.

“Guiao would find out later it was a mortar round that struck the row of container vans inside the camp that served as their quarters,” he added.

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Everyday for the past three weeks, Enrique Guiao would wake up at 5:30 a.m. He would join six other Filipinos in…

Posted by Elmer G Cato on Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Philippine envoy noted that the explosion claimed the life of Guiao’s Sudanese co-worker.

“The Filipino cook survived because the door to his quarters shielded him from the blast. If Guiao were with him, he would have absorbed some of the shrapnel. He realized how lucky he was,” Cato said.

A “visibly shaken Guiao,” according to Cato, showed up at the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli hours after the incident.

“He said he had seen enough. He no longer wants to take the risks that other kababayan in Libya were willing to take. His family back home needs him alive. He asked us to bring him home. In a few days, we will,” Cato added.

According to the latest data from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), at least 40 Filipinos have so far availed of the government’s offer of repatriation, 19 of whom have either been evacuated from the Libyan capital or have been flown to Manila. /ee

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TAGS: Elmer Cato, Enrique Guiao, Filipino worker, international news, Libya, repatriation
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