MANILA - The Philippine Embassy in Libya has belied reports that officials already left the area and abandoned Filipinos, amid the ongoing crisis.
"As the fighting gets closer to Tripoli, we would like to take this opportunity to assure the members of the Filipino Community that we have no plans of leaving. We will be staying here with them the same way colleagues who came before us did," Ambassador Elmer Cato said.
Cato said the embassy received several calls from frantic Filipinos after it was reported that some countries have evacuated their diplomatic staff from Tripoli.
"Apparently, they heard rumors that we at the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli have been ordered to move to Tunis. We were most surprised because we were here at the Embassy checking on our kababayan," Cato said.
Cato reminded that the Philippines did not close its embassy even during most violent times in Libya.
"Even at the most violent period in Libya’s recent history, the Philippines did not close its embassy nor pulled out its diplomatic staff from Tripoli. Our kababayan working here are the reason why the Embassy has been kept open all these years," he said.
In another post made Monday, Cato urged Filipinos to take proper precautions to ensure their safety if they do not wish to heed the government's call for voluntary repatriation.
"You all have your reasons why you chose to remain here in Tripoli. We understand those reasons. While we urge you to consider getting repatriated back to the Philippines, we also know that we could not force you to go," he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Monday advised Filipinos in the capital Tripoli and nearby areas to consider repatriation amid the ongoing clashes in the country.
The DFA said it raised Alert Level III (voluntary repatriation) to ensure the safety and security of all Filipino nationals in Libya.