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MANILA, Philippines – Majority of Filipino workers in Syria have rejected the Philippine government’s offer to repatriate them to the Philippines, citing scant employment opportunities back home, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday, January 3.
Del Rosario, who flew to Syria last weekend to check on the progress of evacuation efforts of the Philippine Embassy in the troubled country, said many Filipinos have expressed their desire to remain there despite the government’s declaration of its highest crisis alert.
There are about 10,000 mostly undocumented Filipinos in Syria working mainly as domestic helpers. They entered Syria as tourists and subsequently got jobs, earning an average of $150 a month, officials said.
“Oddly enough, not a single one of them wants to be repatriated and their reason is there is not enough economic opportunities in the Philippines,” Del Rosario told a press briefing, adding that the government cannot force them to leave if they don’t want to.
Del Rosario added, “I did not talk to anyone who wanted to be repatriated.” He said that getting at least 20 percent of them to come home would be “a pretty good figure.”
The government would be spending US$4,000 per person to repatriate all the OFWs in Syria.
Since the unrest began in March last year, at least 490 Filipinos have returned to the Philippines. – Rappler.com