More OFWs repatriated from war-torn Libya
MANILA, Philippines – More overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) safely returned from war-torn Libya over the weekend, bringing to 4,790 the total number of repatriated OFWs from the North African country.
Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Rebecca Calzado said each of the 29 migrant workers who returned March 13 to 15 will receive P10,000 under the Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP).
They were also provided temporary shelter, transportation to the provinces, and counseling, among others.
A group of 8 OFWs first left Tunisia on board Emirates Airways flight EK 334 and arrived in Manila at 10:30 pm on Friday, March 13. A group of 16 followed via Qatar Airlines flight QR 926 and arrived 3:10 pm on Saturday, March 14.
Finally, a group of 5 flew home on Sunday, March 15, on board Emirates Airways flight EK 334 and arrived at 10:30 pm that day.
There are now 4,790 repatriates from Libya as of March 15 since it was declared under Crisis Alert Level 4 due to volatile security and unrest.
Workers choosing to stay
Amid escalating conflict between rival governments in the oil-rich country on July 20, 2014, the Philippine government issued the Alert Level 4, which means a mandatory pullout of all Filipinos there, and a deployment ban on workers.
At least 7 Filipinos have now been abducted in the North African state in 2015 alone, with the latest abduction of 9 foreigners including 4 Filipino citizens allegedly done by jihadists linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) group.
Despite this, around 4,000 OFWs remain in Libya. Most of whom are reported to be medical workers offered financial incentives to stay.
The Philippines is a known labor-sending country, with over 10 million Filipinos either temporarily working or permanently residing abroad.
OFWs' remittances comprise more than a 10th of the country's gross national income.
President Benigno Aquino III, however, envisions "a government that creates jobs at home so that working abroad will be a choice rather than a necessity."
Other repatriated OFWs from Libya who went through the Mandatory Repatriation Program may also apply for FRAP at any OWWA Regional Welfare Office in the Philippines where they reside, provided they present the following:
- Passport indicating the dates of entry and exit to and from Libya and date of arrival in the Philippines
- Any government-issued ID indicating one's residency or a barangay certificate to establish residency
The Department of Budget and Management earlier released an additional P50 million ($1.11 million) to the Department of Foreign Affairs for the mandatory repatriation of Filipino workers in 4 strife-torn areas: Libya, Iraq, Gaza, and Syria.
The government, through its labor agencies, has maintained it does not discriminate against migrant Filipino workers without proper travel documents in terms of the subsidized mandatory return.
However, benefits such as the P10,000-reintegration package to OFW-returnees are exclusively granted to OFWs with existing records of leaving the country for work. – Rappler.com