59 Filipino workers can’t leave Lebanon
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine officials in Lebanon have discussed with their Lebanese counterparts some measures, including possible intervention, for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) wanting to return home in light of the tensions in the southern border of the Middle Eastern country.
Philippine Ambassador Raymond Balatbat said that 59 out of the 286 Filipino nationals who signed up to avail of the embassy’s voluntary mass repatriation were not allowed to return to the Philippines due to their current contractual obligations.
The embassy, in a statement, said that this was relayed by Balatbat to Lebanese Minister of Labor Moustafa Bayram in a recent meeting to discuss the Philippine Embassy’s voluntary mass repatriation of Filipino nationals because of the situation.
“In response to the Embassy’s request for the Minister’s assistance and the Ministry of Labor’s possible intervention in such cases, both parties came up with practical solutions and steps that are beneficial to both the Filipino migrant workers and their employers,” the embassy said.
It did not elaborate but gave assurance that such measures will be immediately implemented by the Embassy’s Migrant Workers Office to provide assistance to distressed Filipino nationals who wish to return to the Philippines.
35 repatriated so far
Bayram emphasized that the Ministry of Labor prioritizes the welfare and safety of Filipino migrant workers in Lebanon, said the embassy.
“The Philippine Embassy … will continue to engage relevant Lebanese institutions to promote the protection and welfare of Filipino nationals in Lebanon, particularly during times of heightened tensions and uncertainty in the country,” it added.
The embassy has so far repatriated a total of 35 distressed Filipino nationals.
The second batch, which arrived in Manila on Nov. 10, included three Filipino migrant workers holding valid Lebanese work permits, seven undocumented Filipino migrant workers, and 13 OFWs who are permanent residents in Lebanon.
The Philippine government raised Alert Level 3 in Lebanon due to the heightened tensions on the southern border of Lebanon and rolled out a voluntary repatriation program starting Oct. 21 for affected Filipino nationals.