MANILA, Philippines - Almost all Filipino workers in Syria are undocumented, making it hard for the Philippine government to repatriate them from the strife-torn country, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
During a Senate hearing on the agency's proposed budget for 2012, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers' Affairs Esteban Conejos said 98% of around 17,000 Filipinos in Syria are undocumented.
"They don't go through the process, so there's no record of them," he said.
Conejos said this hampers the agency's efforts to account for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Syria and have them repatriated amid the worsening political situation there.
He added this was unlike the OFW situation in Libya, a country still struggling to rebuild itself after a violent rebellion that overthrew its leader, Moammar Gaddafi.
"In Libya, most of our workers were skilled, semi-skilled. They were regular workers. We knew exactly where they were, and how many they were," Conejos said.
The DFA is now tracking down these Filipinos, who are mostly domestic helpers, he said.