Evacuation of Pinoys from Libya to continue for another week

March 5, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – The evacuation of Filipinos from Libya would continue for another week, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said yesterday.
Secretary Albert del Rosario said the DFA has a good working organization for the repatriation.
The government-chartered ship M/V Ionian Queen is on its way to Tripoli to fetch the remaining Filipinos who would like to be repatriated.
It is expected to arrive in Libya today.
Some 11,045 Filipinos have already been flown out of Libya, according to the DFA. Of this number, some 1,971 have arrived in Manila .
The government has released P525 million for the evacuation of Filipinos from Libya.
Filipino repatriates can avail of the financial relief assistance from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) in the amount of P10,000.
Six combined DFA-Department of Labor and Employment teams continue to assist Filipinos in Tripoli and at the various crossing and entry points in Djerba in the Libyan-Tunisian border, Al Sallum in Egypt, Crete and Malta.
A team is at a command post in Djerba for the relocation and the repatriation of Filipinos.
In Tripoli, the Philippine embassy continues to extend assistance to Filipinos.
In Crete, the DFA reception team continues to assist Filipinos arriving from Benghazi.
The team has already made arrangements for Filipinos from Tripoli, including food and accommodations.
In Malta, the DFA team has been providing assistance to Filipinos arriving from Tripoli .
A chartered flight from Alexandria traveled Thursday night carrying 186 passengers.
The flight was scheduled to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) yesterday afternoon.
The Philippine embassy in Cairo is working with the International Organization for Migration in booking flights for Filipinos abandoned by their employers.
In Manila, the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya.
The Office of Consular Affairs has also designated special lanes for Filipinos from Libya in its main passport office, its 19 regional consular offices and its Passport Extension Office at the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).
First batch arrives
The first batch of 1,800 overseas Filipinos evacuated from Benghazi on board the Ionian Queen to Crete arrived on board two separate flights of Philippine Airlines and Thai Airways via Bangkok yesterday.
The repatriation was arranged by the employer of the Filipinos in Libya, the South Asia Group, according to Gil Estoce Lebria, one of the passengers.
Lebria said more than 2,000 Filipinos were left behind in their camp waiting for their employer to evacuate them.
Lebria, who serves as the group’s unofficial spokesman, did not heed the request of airport management for them to wait for the OWWA representatives to process them.
The group proceeded to the immigration counter for clearance.
Lebria said they traveled without food for a week in Libya for fear of violence, and upon arriving in Manila, they were asked to wait for a photo-op.
“Hindi namin kailangan ang pampalubag loob na baseball cap, ang kailangan namin ay pera at pagkain na kailangan ng pamilya namin (We don’t need consolation gifts like a baseball cap, what we need is money and food for our families),” he said.
Administrator Carmelita Dimzon of the OWWA announced yesterday that some P10,000 in cash will be distributed to every Filipino arriving from Libya.
They can get the money from the OWWA regional offices nationwide, she added.
Jobs for returning workers
At least 20,000 overseas and local jobs are available for returning workers from Libya.
Labor Undersecretary Lourdes Trasmonte said about 30 American firms are offering 6,000 local jobs to workers, including those who just returned from Libya.
“The US embassy is set to conduct a job fair from March 18 to 20 during which 6,000 vacancies from 30 locally based American companies would be offered,” she said.
DOLE is also meeting with various foreign chambers of commerce to identify other vacancies available for the thousands of returning workers, Trasmonte said.
Administrator Carlos Cao Jr. of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said there are employment opportunities for highly skilled workers in Guam, Kuwait, Australia, Angola and Oman.
“In Guam, the US government has already announced that there will be 20,000 available jobs there,” he said.
“Although that is open for other nationalities, we expect to capture as much as 10,000 for our Filipino workers.”
Local recruiters also reported that at least 1,000 jobs are available for Filipino nurses returning from Libya.
Many foreign employers based in Gulf countries have also expressed desire to hire displaced workers from Libya, they added.
Ezekiel Alunen, LBS recruitment Solutions vice president, said employers in Bahrain and other Gulf countries would prioritize the hiring of Filipino construction workers from Libya.
“We did not even initiate the negotiations, it’s the foreign employers who called us to express their intention to hire the returning workers from Libya,” he said.
Ian Nelson, Vinci Grand Construction Project chief executive officer, vowed to re-deploy their 97 Filipino employees whom they helped repatriate from Libya last week.
“We have many other projects in other countries so we are trying to re-deploy them there,” he said.
“At this time, we are just checking all the vacancies, but we will definitely take them back in our company.”
Nelson said a majority of their workers in Libya are likely to be deployed in Qatar.
“We just don’t know when things would settle down in Libya, but we would also hire Filipinos who are willing to go back there,” he said.
Electrical engineer Joseph Sarmiento, who returned from Libya a week ago, said Vinci already offered to hire him in their projects either in Qatar, Ukraine or Hong Kong.
“If given the choice, I would like to work again in Libya because there we can save more money than in other countries in the Middle East,” he said.
“But I am happy that Vinci is already offering to rehire us. Maybe I would just take a month’s vacation and then return abroad.”
They did not ask to be repatriated, but their foreign employers immediately chartered a plane and evacuated them to Paris, Sarmiento said.
Dimzon said a majority of the returning workers from Libya have expressed desire to go back abroad to work.
“I usually meet the returning workers, most of whom are professionals, and they would like to be assisted for re-employment abroad because they say if they would stay here, they would not be getting the same salaries they are receiving abroad,” she said. – Pia Lee-Brago Rudy Santos, Mayen Jaymalin

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=663125&publicationSubCategoryId=63
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