Repatriated OFWs recount danger in Libya

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2014 10:56 AM | Updated as of Jul 30 2014 07:38 PM

MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs is scrambling to bring home Filipinos in Libya amid the escalating violence between rival militias.

On Tuesday, 28 overseas Filipino workers arrived in Manila after accepting the Philippine government's mandatory repatriation.

One former domestic helper said Libya's civil war turned out to be a nightmare for Filipinos there. Some OFWs showed cellphone videos of the unrest.

"Pasalamat kami at nakalayas na kami roon kasi talagang araw-araw bombahan. Kahit sa likod ng embassy, doon po nagpapasabog. Bumili lang po kaming pagkain, hinoldap na kami," said Leonida Gonzales.

Since Libya's international airport is closed due to the fighting, they had to travel by land for nearly an entire day together with Philippine embassy officials to escape the fighting.

But the road was extremely dangerous with several checkpoints set up by various armed groups.

"Maraming checkpoints more than 10. Nanghihingi po. Lahat ng papers na ibibigay ni Ambassador hinihingan po ng 300 dinar... Kailangang magpapadulas para makalusot," added Gonzales.

For pipe welder Antonio Corpuz, his arrival in Manila was a massive relief. He said the situation in Libya has deteriorated into chaos and lawlessness and all Filipinos there should be evacuated.

"Worse talaga. Kailangang makaalis na ang mga Filipino. Yung welfare na tinutuluyan ng ating manggagawang Pilipino wala pong seguridad, wala pong gwardiya. Anytime pwede pong pasukin ng mga militia," said Corpuz.

Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) was among those who welcomed the OFWs back from Libya. He said they will be given assistance to rebuild their lives.

"Ang DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) at ang POEA ay handang maglatag ng mga local at overseas employment options sa kanila," said Cacdac.

Many Filipinos remain in Libya more than two weeks since the DFA raised the crisis alert level to 4, which calls for mandatory repatriation. Report from ANC