DFA team faces tough challenge in Libya

By Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 23 2011 10:11 PM | Updated as of Feb 24 2011 09:35 PM

MANILA, Philippines - If the Department of Foreign Affairs' (DFA) Quick Reaction Team's planned route to enter Libya is any indication of how difficult it will be to enter and exit the country, it would seem that the many Filipinos seeking repatriation are facing a tough road ahead of them.

The 6-man team, led by Undersecretary Ricardo Endaya of the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Affairs, will fly to Doha, Qatar, and proceed to Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. 

From there, they will proceed to Jerba, where they will attempt to find taxis that will be willing to take them to the Tunisian-Libyan border.

The airport in Tripoli, the capital of Libya, has been shut down. Endaya said the situation is worsening.

His team will stay in Libya for 10 days, during which they will try to find available exits in borders with friendly nations such as Egypt and Tunisia. 

They will also attempt to set up chartered flights from Tripoli airport, but can only study this option upon assessing the actual situation in the field.

“We are confident na makapasok kami sa Tripoli. Mga kasama ko lahat sila naassign sa trip at expert sila don. And we're confident we can enter Tripoli thru the Tunisian Libyan border,” Endaya said.

“Makakagawa tayo ng paraan, and we hope we'll be successful para tulungan an gating mga kababayan. Madami na humihingi tulong and I think the situation is getting worse,” he added.

‘Most workers safe’

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz, meanwhile, announced that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) is adding P75 million more to the initial P25 million it earlier allocated for the voluntary repatriation of Filipinos from Libya based on the instruction of President Benigno Aquino III. 

Baldoz made the announcement as the DOLE’s Task Force Libya, composed of former labor attaché to Libya Nasser Mustafa and OWWA officials Roberto Bassig and Orlando Nadora are set to leave early Thursday morning for Tripoli to help in the repatriation process. 

The DOLE chief said that since Tuesday, the task force has been profiling the whereabouts of OFWs in Libya, including monitoring their situation there, in coordination with the recruitment agencies. 

Baldoz said most of the Filipino workers “are safe and being taken care of under their own contingency and safety plans."