DOLE deploys team to aid OFW repatriation in Libya

Posted at 07/31/14 5:12 PM

MANILA – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will deploy more officials to assist in the ongoing repatriation efforts of the Philippine government in Libya.

Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said she has approved the augmentation of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Libya and the Philippine Rapid Response Team in Tunisia and Malta.

"With orders to leave the country as soon as they are ready, the earliest by Tuesday next week, I am sending to Libya and Tunisia Welfare Officer Ron Lionel Bartolome and Labor Attache Naser Munder to assist in a possible repatriation of our OFWs," said Baldoz.

The deployment of Munder and Bartolome to Libya and Tunisia will bring to six the DOLE's ground personnel in Libya, and further strengthen the POLO team assisting OFWs there. Presently in Libya are four officials, namely, Labor Attaches Nasser Mustafa and Melchor Dizon and Welfare Officers Eduardo Mendoza, Jr. and Lynol Fulgencio.

"I have also issued a travel authority to Labor Attache Ramon Tionloc to go to Malta to join the country's Rapid Response Team. In Malta, Labor Attache Tionloc will perform the task of cooperating and coordinating with the Philippine Mission on assistance to OFWs who will transit in Malta from Libya before they fly back to the Philippines".

Baldoz described Munder, Bartolome and Tionloc as “crisis veterans”.

“Bartolome was in Tunisia in the Libyan crisis of 2011, while Munder had been involved previously in not a few evacuation of OFWs in the Middle East. As to Tionloc, he, as a maritime expert, is also a veteran of several crises involving our OFWs. He will be in Malta to coordinate and assist in the negotiations for a chartered vessel that may be used to evacuate OFWs Libya. He had also been involved in this in 2011 when the Philippines chartered a vessel, the Ionian Queen which brought out from the port of Misurata 500 OFWs," Baldoz said.

The DOLE chief also issued an order to Milan, Italy-based Welfare Officer Cynthia Lamban to join Tionloc in Malta.

As to Labor Attache Mustafa, Baldoz said he was the DOLE's point man in Libya in 2011, while Welfare Officer Mendoza assisted in the evacuation of OFWs who exited Libya through Alexandria in Egypt, also in 2011.

"With these officials on the ground, I am confident that our OFWs will be in safe hands and no harm will befall them."

Meanwhile, Baldoz said that in view of the ongoing crisis between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, she had also issued a travel authority to Labor Attache Merriam Cuasay to proceed to Israel to coordinate and cooperate with the Philippine Embassy on the mandatory repatriation of Filipino nationals from the Gaza Strip.

"I have also ordered Atty. Rudy Gabasan , the newly-designated labor attache to Israel, to already leave for Tel Aviv so he could fully assume his duties and perform his responsibilities," Baldoz concluded.