DOLE imposes total deployment ban to Libya

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
DOLE imposes total deployment ban to Libya
“The resolution is subject to the official notice from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). The effect of the resolution will be a total deployment ban, although the peace and order problem is only limited to certain areas in Libya,” Bello said.
Miguel De Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) governing board convened yesterday and issued a resolution declaring a ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Libya where hostilities erupted recently among rival militias, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said.

“The resolution is subject to the official notice from the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). The effect of the resolution will be a total deployment ban, although the peace and order problem is only limited to certain areas in Libya,” Bello said.

He said the DFA had issued an advice to ban the deployment of workers to Libya.

Bello said the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will provide financial and livelihood assistance to OFWs who would opt to return to the country from Libya.

The government is now preparing for the possible forced repatriation of OFWs from Libya amid the deteriorating peace and order situation in the North African country.

Bello reported that the DOLE is sending a six-member team of labor personnel and welfare officers to prepare for the forced repatriation of Filipino workers.

“Probably by early next week, the team will already be leaving for Libya,” Bello said in an interview.

Bello said the government will undertake forced repatriation of Filipino workers if the situation in Libya worsens and DFA raises the current Alert Level 3 to 4.

Under Alert Level 3, Bello said, the repatriation of workers is only voluntary.

“Our worry is if the situation worsens, we have to prepare for any exigencies,” Bello said, adding DOLE will send augmentation if the situation so requires.

Bello estimated that only 10 to 20 percent of the 2,600 documented Filipino workers in Libya may avail themselves of the government’s free repatriation.

So far, Bello said, DOLE has not received any request for repatriation among Filipinos employed in Libya.

He noted that Filipinos are “out of harm’s way” since they are employed far from high risk areas.

The DFA has raised Alert Level 3 in several districts in Libya in the wake of escalations of violence that erupted on Monday.

Embassy officials have urged Filipinos in Tripoli and nearby areas within a 100-kilometer radius of the capital Tripoli to consider voluntary repatriation.

Sen. Nancy Binay said the creation of an interagency team composed of the DFA, DOLE and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, including representatives from recruitment agencies, is necessary so that relatives in the Philippines could be updated on the situation and repatriation plans of the government.

“In this kind of situation, communication is of utmost importance for our countrymen in Libya and for the peace of mind of their families here who want to know what’s happening,” Binay said.

The DFA raised on Monday Alert Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation) in Libya and urged Filipinos to consider getting themselves and their dependents repatriated to avoid getting caught in the crossfire of ongoing clashes between rival factions.

In raising the Alert Level from 2 (Restriction Phase) to 3, the DFA cited its obligation to ensure the safety and security of all Filipino nationals overseas.

The Philippine embassy in Tripoli gave the recommendation to raise the alert level following the escalation of fighting that included the shelling of residential areas in the outskirts of the capital.

Alert Level 3 will cover Tripoli and areas within a 100-kilometer radius of the capital as follows:

To the East: Tajoura; Ghot Romman; Qaraboli and Qasr Khiyar.

To the South: Esbea; Tarhuna; Bani Waled and Gharyan.

To the West: Aziziya; Warshifana; Zawia; Surman and Sabratha.

With the declaration, the DFA said travel to Libya by Filipinos working in these areas will not be allowed until the situation in the country stabilizes and the alert level is lowered back to Level 2.

The DFA said Filipinos in areas near the fighting should move to safer areas or request the embassy for assistance in their repatriation before the fighting intensifies.

The department said the embassy will remain open to respond to requests for assistance from Filipinos who might be affected by the fighting.

Binay called on the government to activate emergency hotlines where relatives of Filipino workers in Libya could call and get information on the developments in the North African country where hostilities among rival militias are expected to erupt soon. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Paolo Romero


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