59 Pinoys in Lebanon not allowed to return to Philippines

Pia Lee-Brago - The Philippine Star
59 Pinoys in Lebanon not allowed to return to Philippines
Protesters clash with Lebanese security forces outside the US Embassy in Awkar east of Beirut, during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, on October 18, 2023. Thousands rallied across the Arab and Muslim world on October 18 to protest the deaths of hundreds of people in a strike on a Gaza hospital that they blame on Israel, despite its denials.
AFP / Ibrahim Amro

MANILA, Philippines — At least 59 Filipinos in Lebanon, who signed up to avail themselves of the Philippine government’s voluntary mass repatriation, were not allowed to return to the country due to their current contractual obligations.

Ambassador to Beirut Raymond Balatbat met with Lebanese Minister of Labor Moustafa Bayram to discuss the Philippine embassy in Cairo’s voluntary mass repatriation of Filipino nationals in light of the tensions in the southern border of Lebanon.

Balatbat informed Bayram that 59 of 286 Filipino nationals could not be flown to the Philippines because of their current contractual obligations.

The embassy said Bayram and the Ministry of Labor itself responded to its request for assistance and intervention, with both parties coming up with practical solutions and steps beneficial to both the Filipino migrant workers and their employers.

“Said measures will be immediately implemented by the Embassy’s Migrant Workers Office (MWO) to provide the much needed assistance to distressed Filipino nationals who wish to return to the Philippines,” it added.

Bayram emphasized that the Ministry of Labor prioritizes the welfare and safety of Filipino migrant workers in Lebanon.

The embassy, along with MWO-Lebanon and the Overseas Welfare Office Lebanon, would continue to engage relevant Lebanese institutions to promote the protection and welfare of Filipino nationals, particularly during times of heightened tensions and uncertainty in the country.

A total of 23 distressed Filipino nationals were repatriated on Nov. 8 and 10. The second batch included three Filipino migrant workers holding valid Lebanese work permits, seven undocumented Filipino migrant workers, and 13 overseas Filipinos who are permanent residents in Lebanon.

Among the repatriates is a family living in Beit Lif – barely six kilometers away from the border where their children’s school was among structures destroyed in the tension affecting the southern Lebanese border.

The Philippine government raised Alert Level 3 in Lebanon and rolled out a voluntary repatriation program since Oct. 21 for affected Filipinos. Its embassy said it continues to monitor the situation across Lebanon and provides updated safety measures and advisories to Filipino nationals.

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