MANILA – Another ship will be chartered to transport Filipinos out of Libya, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) said.
Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said the OWWA Board of Trustees, where she sits as its chairperson, approved the chartering of a ship to ferry Filipinos from Libya to Malta.
Baldoz said the contract for the ship's charter was initially signed by Welfare Officer Cynthia Lamban together with Alex Polidano of the Ocean Marine Services Ltd. The charter of the ship M/S Bridge will cost 1.4 million euros.
Lamban said that the M/S Bridge will sail for Benghazi to load OFW repatriate-passengers then sail to Misrata to do the same before sailing back to Malta. The repatriation by ship is expected to be completed on August 12 (Tuesday).
Baldoz was informed that accommodation and airline bookings on commercial flights pose as a challenge to the Philippine Rapid Response Team (RRT) as Malta is at the peak of its tourist season.
The DOLE Chief also said that the OWWA Board has authorized the charter of planes for special flights to bring home OFWs from Libya.
"The OWWA, headed by Administrator Rebecca Calzado could conclude and finalize the negotiations with Philippine Airlines for those special charter flights out of Malta," Baldoz said.
Lamban is in touch with Consul General Rico Fos of the Philippine Mission in Geneva to get updates on the Department of Foreign Affairs’ negotiations with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) for support to the repatriation of OFWs from Libya.
Several firms in Libya have taken the initiative to evacuate their Filipino workers citing the actions done by Korean construction and auto giant, Hyundai, whose remaining 43 workers have arrived in the Philippines.
On the same flight with the Hyundai workers were 7 OFWs working with Craddock Company. Other companies that have successfully evacuated their workers are Harouge, an oil operations firm, which evacuated 26 OFWs; Vaos Company, which had evacuated its workers including 20 OFWs; and Ferroostal (formerly MAN) Company , which had evacuated its workers including another 20 OFWs.
Meanwhile, a group of 26 OFWs employed by the BAM Oil and Gas Company have arrived in Malta from Libya. They are set to arrive in Manila on August 9.