MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) yesterday admitted difficulty in convincing Filipinos in Libya to leave the North African country amid the worsening unrest there.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose said only 51 of the estimated 30,000 Filipino workers in Libya have registered with the Philippine embassy in Tripoli for voluntary repatriation.
“The situation there is very volatile and deteriorating, so we are calling on our fellow Filipinos there to avail the voluntary repatriation program. The government will shoulder the repatriation cost,” Jose said in Filipino.
“Others are still taking the risk. They think that because nothing has happened to them, they are safe there. We want them to return home before something happens to them,” he added.
The schedule of repatriation of the 51 Filipino workers is being scheduled by the embassy. An augmentation team will be deployed to Libya this week to assist in the repatriation.
Jose said Filipinos in Libya do not have to be physically present at the embassy to register for voluntary repatriation because they can register by calling the embassy to give their contact numbers and email addresses.
“Once they register, we immediately process their documentation, so they can have even a commercial flight to get them out of the country as soon as possible,” he added.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration met with recruitment agencies on Monday to remind them and the employers that “it is still their primary responsibility to repatriate” Filipino workers, POEA administrator Hans Leo Cacdac said.
Cacdac explained that because of the urgency of the situation in Libya, “the government will move ahead to repatriate them even if the recruiter has not yet funded repatriation.”
“The DFA will facilitate, will handle the actual repatriation but ultimately, the liability will be incurred by the recruiters and employers once the workers come back home… Recruiters are covered by compulsory repatriation insurance,” he added.
Jose said exit routes by land and by sea have been identified should airports be closed. These include Egypt, Malta and Greece. – Pia Lee-Brago, Sheila Crisostomo