12,000 OFWs refuse to leave Libya

Posted at 07/03/2014 3:40 AM | Updated as of 07/03/2014 3:40 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Over 12,000 Filipino workers refuse to leave their jobs in war-torn Libya.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said out of the estimated 13,122 Filipino workers in that country, only 269 have returned since the hostilities erupted.

“A total of 269 OFWs have returned home from Libya following the government’s call for voluntary repatriation when the crisis in that country continued to escalate,” she said.

Data from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) showed that a majority of repatriates from Libya were men, with only five women, one of whom has been identified as undocumented, Baldoz said.

Over the weekend, 32 Filipinos employed in a carpet factory in Tripoli arrived home. The company shouldered their airfare and processed the issuance of their exit visas and other travel documents.

Representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs joined OWWA personnel in welcoming the repatriates at NAIA and briefed them on the services under the national reintegration program.

The OWWA also provided the repatriates meet-and-greet services and facilitated their immigration exit clearances.

It also gave transportation money to those going home to the provinces and free door-to-door transport to those living in Metro Manila.

Baldoz urged all the remaining OFWs in Libya to get in touch with the Philippine embassy and Philippine Overseas Labor Offices in Tripoli and avail themselves of the voluntary repatriation program.

Most of the OFWs in Libya are employed in the construction, oil, medical and services sectors.

Baldoz said she has instructed OWWA and the National Reintegration Center for OFWs to provide the repatriates from Libya prospective plans after coming home so the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) can focus on the assistance to be given them.

Some of the repatriates have expressed preference to avail of DOLE livelihood assistance, while others opt to be assisted with job referrals for abroad.

Others requested refund of unpaid salaries and placement fees.