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Libyan envoy: ‘We like Filipinos’

MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines on Tuesday welcomed an envoy loyal to embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, who assured that some 1,700 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who opted to remain in the rebellion-torn country were safe, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

Raul Hernandez, the new DFA spokesperson, said the Philippines continues to maintain an embassy in Tripoli despite calls from countries allied with the so-called Contact Group on Libya and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato) to withdraw support for Gadhafi’s government.

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In a statement on Tuesday, Hernandez said visiting Libyan Immigration and Expatriates Office Undersecretary Abdulhadi Al-Huwaiji met with Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on Friday and assured him that the Libyan government “will continue to facilitate the sending of the OFWs’ remittances to their families in the Philippines.”

Libyan assistance

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Del Rosario thanked Undersecretary Al-Huwaiji for the assistance extended to our government in the repatriation of (some 10,000 OFWs and their dependents),” according to Hernandez.

The DFA chief “also reiterated his concern for the welfare and safety of the remaining Filipinos in Libya and asked (Al-Huwaiji) to ensure that they are out of harm’s way,” he said, adding the Philippines would continue maintaining its embassy in Tripoli.

For his part, Al-Huwaiji briefed Secretary Del Rosario on the current situation in Libya. The secretary reportedly responded by saying he hoped the situation there “will be resolved peacefully.”

‘Come back’

The other day, Al-Huwaiji appealed to the thousands of OFWs who fled the north African country to “come back” once the situation in Libya has normalized.

We prefer manpower from the Philippines… We like Filipinos,” he told a news conference at a Makati City hotel.

“We’re looking forward to receiving more Filipino workers. They have been good ambassadors of their country. They have given a good impression of the Philippines,” he said.

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According to Al-Huwaiji, “it’s very peaceful and calm in Tripoli except in areas where criminal groups are operating.”

He claimed, among other things, that the rebellion in Libya was “actually a war for oil.”

Nato condemned

Al-Huwaiji also condemned Nato for being responsible for the “deaths of thousands of Libyan civilians.”

“We’re in a complicated situation right now, but Filipinos are still welcome in Libya,” he emphasized.

Most of the Filipino migrant workers who decided to remain in Tripoli are involved in medical services.

Alert level 4

“And we are taking care of them… It’s part of the job of our secretariat to look after migrant workers in my country, including Filipinos,” he said, adding “We have very good relations with the Philippines.”

Meanwhile, Hernandez reiterated the DFA is still “on Alert Level 4 in Libya.”

The DFA position is that it will abide by the United Nations Security Council resolution which authorized the conduct of air strikes against the Gadhafi regime in order to avert grave humanitarian crisis” in Libya. However it will maintain its embassy in Tripoli to protect Filipino workers.

More than 30 countries aligned with the so-called Contact Group on Libya have recently recognized the rebel National Transition Council in Libya as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. Among the countries that have recognized the NTC are Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Malta, Qatar, Spain and the United States.

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TAGS: 1, 700 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Contact Group on Libya, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, Libyan Immigration and Expatriates Office Undersecretary Abdulhadi Al-Huwaiji, Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, new DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Nato)
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