June 17, 2024

The Philippine Embassy in Tripoli repatriated another seven Filipinos from the Libyan capital on Dec. 26.

The group, comprised of five adults and two minors, is the 13th batch to be repatriated since the latest conflict in Tripoli broke out eight months ago.

This brings to 149 the total number of Filipinos from Tripoli and surrounding areas who were assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment in returning to the Philippines since April.

Chargè d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato said the repatriates will first be flown to Tunis from where they will take their connecting flight to Manila via Doha.

Cato reiterated the Embassy’s appeal for Filipinos, particularly those staying in areas near where the fighting has been taking place, to relocate as soon as possible in anticipation of further escalation of hostilities.

There are more than 1,000 Filipinos – most of whom are nurses and hospital workers and their dependents – staying in Tripoli and surrounding areas that have been placed under Alert Level IV seven months ago.

Only around 10 percent have so far availed themselves of the government’s repatriation offer while several displaced by the fighting have been provided temporary shelter by the Embassy.

On Dec. 25, 26 overseas foreign workers (OFW) from Lebanon who were repatriated arrived in the country.

The group forms the second batch of distressed Filipinos repatriated from the Middle East country that is experiencing deepening financial difficulties. The first batch, which comprised 30 OFWs, arrived in Manila two days earlier.

Sec. Teodoro Locsin, in his welcome address, expressed his appreciation for the swift action of the Office of the Usec. for Migrant Workers’ Affairs (OUMWA) in coordination with the Philippine Embassy in Beirut, to bring as many distressed Filipinos home the soonest possible time.

Earlier this month, DFA-OUMWA sent a Rapid Response Team to assist the Embassy in managing the repatriation.

Aside from the cash gift to help the repatriates to start over, the Migrants Workers’ Affairs unit of the DFA also shouldered the cost of repatriation to Manila as well as the transit to their home provinces. The immigration costs as well as penalties imposed in Lebanon were also covered by the DFA.

Members of the Inter-Agency Council Against Trafficking (IACAT), headed by DOJ Usec. Emmelyn Aglipay-Villar, were also at the airport to receive the group and assist them should they decide to pursue filing cases against their illegal recruiters.

IACAT is the body mandated by law to coordinate and monitor the implementation of Republic Act 9208, or the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act of 2003. – DFA release