Philippines won't close embassy in Tripoli yet

By Pia Lee-Brago, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 12 2014 04:21 AM | Updated as of Jun 12 2014 12:21 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Despite Libya being on the brink of civil war, the Philippines is not considering closing its diplomatic mission in Tripoli.

“No plan yet to close our embassy,” a source said. “Our nationals are advised to remain indoors and not to participate in public gathering.”

Another source said: “Closing our embassy will be more difficult for us if evacuation of Filipinos becomes necessary.”

The Philippine embassy in Tripoli continues to gather Filipinos wishing to be repatriated and urges them to avail of the flight home, sources said.

Sources said Crisis Alert Level 4 might be raised if major clashes break out again.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) asked Filipinos in Libya to leave while exit routes remain open.

A total of 195 Filipinos in Libya have expressed desire to be repatriated, the DFA added.

Different exit routes have been identified if the airports would be closed. Two exit routes by land and by sea will be through Egypt, Malta and Greece.

The government will shoulder the repatriation cost and the embassy is already processing the exit visas of Filipinos.

DFA spokesman Charles Jose said the Filipinos can leave Libya once they get their exit visas.

It has been difficult to convince Filipinos to leave Libya despite the volatile situation.

Last week, only 51 of the estimated 30,000 Filipinos registered with the embassy for voluntary repatriation.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz has approved the deployment of a contingency team to augment the staff of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Libya.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Libya after the DFA raised Crisis Alert Level 3 last May 29.

Under Crisis Alert Level 3, Filipinos in Libya are encouraged to leave the country voluntarily as soon as possible.

The DFA said 53 Filipinos arrived from Libya yesterday at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). They were all working for Doosan Company (Korea) in Libya.

The first batch of 20 Filipinos arrived at 4:30 p.m., and the second batch of 33 arrived at 10:10 p.m.

Filipinos in Libya were reminded to get in touch with the Philippine embassy in Tripoli for repatriation.

Of the 251 Filipinos who volunteered for repatriation, only 198 remain in Libya, Jose said.