Press Release
February 28, 2011


No single Filipino should be left behind in Libya as the government steps up efforts to pluck out all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) trapped in the political and social turmoil in the North African country, Senator Chiz Escudero said.

Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the evacuation program adopted by the government should be a one-size-fits-all design to ensure that every single Filipino in the troubled Libya has been reached and assigned a place for pick-up and evacuation.

"This should be the policy we ought to be adopting. The situation in Libya is a powder keg waiting to explode full blown. The political tension there will be exacerbated by the social and ethnic problems among almost 81 tribes vying for domination. Blended together, this unrest will blow in the face of everyone in the Libyan territory," Escudero said.

Records from the Department of Foreign Affairs shows there are 26,000 Filipinos currently working and living in Libya. Of these, only 13,000 may be likely evacuated by the government. The 13,000 were reached through the efforts of the Philippine embassy there and others found ways to contact the personnel of the foreign mission on their own.

A big number of Filipinos remains trapped in areas near the Libyan capital of Tripoli. In Al Kufrah alone, 100 OFWs have been abandoned by their Korean employers and have been pleading for help in light of the sporadic shots and explosions being heard from surrounding areas.

The Philippine government has chartered planes from the Philippine Airlines and Qatar Airways. Each flight to Manila costs P13 million and can accommodate 200 to 300 people per flight. The government is allocating P100 million contingency fund for the Libya situation.

Escudero called on key agencies concerned to cut all bureaucratic red tapes in the release of the OFW standby fund which is meant for situations such as this in Libya.

"All mechanisms, legal, financial, physical to afford protection for our people should be interfaced with all efforts from all fronts. These are our modern heroes who keep our economy afloat. We should protect them from threats and dangers anywhere. No stone should be left unturned in terms of getting them out of harm's way, if our OFWs get the the perception of being neglected, they might become ambassadors of ill-will rather than goodwill in foreign lands," Escudero said.

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