MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) – The Philippine Embassy is doing its best to safeguard all Filipino migrant workers who are based in some restive areas in Syria.
“Huwag po silang magalala dahil binabantayan po sila ng embassy at mino-monitor po namin ang Pilipino dito,” said Ambassador Wilfredo Cuyugan.
As of press time, Cuyugan said he has yet to get a copy of the list of Filipinos who would want to go home.
“At this point in time hindi pa ho sa akin naibigay yung listahan kasi the team is still is on its way back,” explained Cuyugan.
Cuyugan is referring to the government’s rapid response team that visited restive areas in Syria.
“Dumaan po sila sa mga nasasabing magugulong lugar--Hama, Homs--which they found out na hindi naman pala magulo at the time that they went there. Ang gulo sa Syria, it moves from one area to another and generally isolated. Kaya ni raise natin ang alert level 3, just to be sure na wala tayong masasaktang Pilipino,” he said.
The team also got in touch with Filipinos in the area to determine those who would want to come home and those who would rather stay in Syria. It was also tasked to check and validate the security situation in those areas.
Based on the embassy’s unofficial count, there are about 1,000 to 2,000 Filipinos in Latakia.
‘Household service workers safe’
Most of the estimated 17,000 Filipino workers deployed to Syria are employed as household service workers.
“Overall, ang mga Filipinos po dito natin ay mga house workers, 90 to 95 percent. Most of them are staying in affluent areas ng mga siyudad dito,” he said.
He explained that it is usually the affluent families who can afford to employ household service workers.
“Kasi po ang mga amo nila kailangang may means to pay them kaya they usually stay in affluent areas. Kaya po sila safe sa mga lugar na yun,” he said, adding that the incidence of violence mostly happen in poor areas.
Alert level 3
On Tuesday, the Philippine government raised alert level 3 in Syria following the escalating violence in the country.
Under alert level 3 all Filipinos working and residing in Syria are urged to voluntarily leave the country and the Philippine government will provide for the repatriation cost.
“Ang maganda noong dineklara ang alert level 3 ina-anticipate ho natin kung anong mangyayari in the future. We are now anticipating na baka grumabe so we already declared voluntary repatriation,” he said.
There are now 40 Filipino workers in the embassy who are set to be repatriated to Manila.
Cuyugan said the Philippine government has set aside funds for the repatriation of Filipinos who want to return to the country.
“Naghanda ng pondo ng Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) through OUMWA, (Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs) at ang gubyerno natin,” he said. – dzMM, ANC