Palace admits difficulties in evacuating OFWs from Libya

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

MALACANANG admitted on Tuesday some difficulties in evacuating the 13,000 Filipinos from war-torn Libya.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the government has been asking assistance from other countries in moving out the Filipinos from the danger zones.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has issued crisis alert level 4, which calls for mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Libya due to the grave security situation there.


Coloma recalled that when the Philippines raised similar alert level in Libya years ago, the government just hired ship to ferry the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) from the said country.

But now, he said the situation is different.

"Hindi naman katulad doon sa inaakala natin na batid na kaagad na puwedeng magtungo sa airport, pagdating sa airport may masasakyan na kaagad. Dito, katulad ng binanggit mo, ay by land 'yung iko-cover na teritoryo bago makaalis doon sa danger zone," he said.

He also cited the limited number of personnel in the Philippine Embassy in Libya.

"Yung normal na staffing ng mga embahada natin sa iba't ibang foreign posts ay 25 to 30 personnel. Mantakin naman natin 13,000 'yung ililikas mula sa Libya. Mahihirapan po 'yung maliit na numero lang na 'yon," the Palace official said.

But he assured that the DFA has been doing everything to assist the OFWs.

"Nagpadala na o nagtalaga na ng rapid response teams at pinagtutulungan ng lahat ng embahada ng Pilipinas sa lahat sa Gitnang Silangan 'yung sitwasyon," he said.

He also said that the government has sought help from other countries.

"Mayroon din tayong kasunduan, halimbawa,sa mga iba pang embahada katulad ng Indonesia...kaya humihingi po tayo ng tulong sa iba't ibang mga bansa katulad nga ng Indonesia na meron ding mga nationals doon sa mga lugar na 'yan para mabawasan 'yung panganib sa ating mga mamamayan," Coloma said.

The DFA has confirmed that a Filipino construction worker, who was kidnapped by militiamen on July 15, was beheaded. The unnamed OFW was the first Filipino casualty since the civil strife erupted anew in the North African state since the first civil war that toppled Moammar Gadhafi's regime in 2011. (SDR/Sunnex)

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