MANILA, Philippines - An estimated 4,568 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have been repatriated from Libya since February 26, amid growing tensions in the Middle East nation.
Latest figures show some 13,000 OFWs are now out of Libya, with about 5,000 of them en route to the country from various points.
But with the seeming easing of tensions in Libya, many OFWs have opted to stay behind, among them are teachers near Tripoli.
Since Thursday last week, Reynaldo Tayag officer-in-charge of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration's (OWWA) Advocacy and Social Marketing Division said the Philippine government has disbursed P30 million to 2,998 OFWs repatriated from Libya.
Tayag said the government has vowed to provide assistance to OFWs thru the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO).
Upon their return, OFWs from Libya are given a P10,000 grant meant to help tide them over.
Tayag added OFWs in Libya, mostly professionals, and highly skilled, have well-paying jobs.
On the average, Tayag said an OFW in Libya earns P30,000 a month, while engineers as much as P50-90,000 a month.
However, that source of income has been interrupted by the Middle East crisis.
In February, the Philippine Overseas Deployment Administration (POEA) issued a deployment ban to Bahrain, Libya and Yemen due to ongoing civil unrest in those countries.
OFW deployment to these countries has been deferred until the political situation normalizes, but Tayag said some employers are open to having the repatriated OFWs return once the situation stabilizes.
"The principals are willing to absorb or redeploy again without cost," Tayag said.
For those who want to get into business, the NRCO provides OFWs business counseling to help them identify ideal business ventures depending on the region. It also offers loan assistance for livelihood opportunities, while job fairs are also being planned within the next few weeks for those looking for work opportunities here and abroad.
"OWWA has a regular loan window up to P200,000 for every OFW," he said.
Tayag said partnerships or corporations made-up of groups of 5 can also avail of loans up to P1 million, while Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP) also has a package for livelihood loans."
The NCRO guarantee system has no collateral, while in the case of OWWA loans, the OFW can use land titles or project assets such as household equipment as collateral.
To avail of the loan assistance, the OFW need only show a passport identifying them as OFW, and present their business plan.
For now however, Tayag admitted government's priority is to bring OFWs to safety, adding the OFWs immediate need is to spend time with their families.