OFWs banned from flying to Bahrain, Libya, Yemen

March 4, 2011

MANILA, Philippines – Immigration officials have banned overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from flying to Bahrain, Libya and Yemen based on a government order.
Bureau of Immigration (BI) officer-in-charge Ronaldo Ledesma said immigration officials at airports and other sub-ports have instructions to stop Filipinos from boarding flights to these countries.
“See to it that the travel ban is strictly implemented,” read Ledesma’s memorandum to Maria Antonette Bucasas, BI airport operations division chief.
Bucasas said she already instructed all immigration supervisors and duty officers to strictly enforce the travel ban.
“We have alerted our immigration personnel at the NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) and other ports nationwide to offload OFWs who intend to travel to Libya, Bahrain and Yemen until such time that the political situation in those countries normalize.”
Ledesma also ordered immigration officers to be on guard and stop the departure of victims of illegal recruitment and human trafficking.
He cautioned airport personnel that illegal recruitment and trafficking syndicates might take advantage of the current influx of returning OFWs from the Middle East.
Albay desk for OFWs
The Libyan Assistance Desk set up by the Albay provincial government to address the emergency concerns of distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) from the province in strife-torn Libya has become the most active partner of the government in handling the crisis hounding OFWs in the Middle East.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said the desk has successfully established contacts not only with OFWs in Libya but also in Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain and now helps supply vital information on OFWs in the Middle East to the Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Labor and Employment, Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.
Salceda said the Libyan desk was originally tasked to secure, accept and handle information from Albayanos OFWs in Libya and families back home, establish communications between them, give feedbacks on their situations, and update them on government initiatives to help secure and enhance their welfare.
Albay is the only province to have taken the initiative, he added.
The Libya desk operates 24 hours a day at the Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office (Apsemo) in Legazpi City and at the Albay Embassy Office in Makati, using telephones, mobile phones and the Internet through social networking sites like Facebook, designated as I-Libya.
It has significantly helped in successfully facilitating the stream of OFWs now coming back home safely to the Philippines.
Headed by Cedric Daep, Apsemo runs the desk as an emergency operation under the Disaster Risk Reduction principle towards a “Zero Casualty” goal, the same guiding principle Albay now follows in confronting disasters.
The desk is now doing a headcount of the Albayano OFWs in Libya, among others, he said.
Through the Desk and its I-Libya facilities, Albayanos can communicate with their OFW relatives in Libya for free through 67 0(6352) – 480-3772, 480-5222, 820-1755 in Legazpi and (632)-877-7672 and 381-31-61in Makati, as well as the texting/SMS in both station.
Salceda said beyond the economic contributions of OFW remittances to their families and the general economy, “the Libyan crisis assumes far greater moral burden on my shoulders, with the faces and eyes of these OFWs and their worried families staring at me. I am, thus, taking the extra mile to get them out of harm’s way and back to the arms of their loved ones.”
He said they now also sponsor daily morning masses at the Albay Cathedral to seek divine intervention. Once out of harm’s way, he added, the Desk will help the OFWs follow up and secure benefits and other assistance from the national government for their repatriation and reintegration and legal help for the recovery of their back salaries and other labor entitlements.
The Bicol Regional Development Council (RDC) which Salceda also chairs, has adopted a resolution during its recent full council meeting, asking both chambers of Congress to enact immediately a P750-million emergency supplemental budget for the emergency repatriation of OFWs caught in the armed conflict in the Middle East. – Rudy Santos, Evelyn Macairan

Source: http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=662854&publicationSubCategoryId=63
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