Jul 132014


MANILA, Philippines–Only 515 of the more than 13,120 overseas Filipino workers in Libya, or nearly 4 percent, have availed themselves of the government’s voluntary repatriation program, prompting the Department of Labor and Employment and its attached agency, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, to appeal again to the OFWs in the strife-torn North African country to return home.

The Philippine nationals’ loved ones here “will be most happy to see them back,” Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz had earlier said.

Baldoz urged the OFWs to get in touch with the Philippine Embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Tripoli to “use the services of Owwa’s 24/7 operations center” and sign up for the free repatriation.

Aid to repatriates

The embassy and the Polo’s address is Km. 7, Gargaresh Road, Abu Nawas district. Their telephone numbers are (00218) 918-244208 and (00218) 911-061166.

Baldoz directed Owwa Administrator Rebecca Calzado and Violeta Muñoz, director of the National Reintegration Center for OFWs, to “see to it that the repatriates’ plans after coming home are identified so the DOLE can focus on the assistance to be given them.”

A number of repatriates have reportedly expressed a preference for availing of the agency’s livelihood assistance program, while others had sought help with overseas job referrals.

The latest group of Filipino workers from Libya, composed of 27 OFWs, arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on July 9 on Etihad Airways from the Middle East.

At the Naia, they were met by Owwa and Department of Foreign Affairs personnel who facilitated their immigration and exit clearances.

Free transport in Metro

The Owwa also provided financial assistance to those going home to the provinces and free transport services to those residing in Metro Manila.

The DOLE, meanwhile, has banned the deployment of OFWs to South Sudan following the deterioration of the political and security situation in that African nation.

The agency said that with the imposition of crisis alert level 3 in that country, a labor deployment ban on South Sudan was automatically imposed.

The DFA also warned Filipinos on Friday against traveling to South Sudan.

“Crisis alert level 3 (voluntary repatriation) is being maintained in South Sudan due to the volatile political and security situation there. Under this alert level, the Department of Labor and Employment automatically imposes an absolute deployment ban,” the DFA said.

Terrorist threats

In Kenya, where the country is on alert for terrorist threats, the DFA on Saturday raised alert level 2 in response to the “deteriorating security situation.”

Under alert level 2, Filipinos are advised to restrict their movements and avoid unnecessary travel and crowded areas, the DFA said.

Under this alert, only overseas Filipino workers returning to Kenya with existing employment contracts are allowed to travel there.

There are about 440 Filipinos in Kenya, most of whom live in Nairobi.

Those employed by United Nations agencies, however, will be allowed to travel to Nairobi, the DOLE and the DFA said.

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