550 Filipinos out of Libya, additional 72 OFWs arrived in Manila Sunday evening

A February 28, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario stated that some 550 Filipinos were safely evacuated to Tunisia in light of politico-security tensions in Libya.

The Filipinos travelled in a convoy of 55 vans and buses headed by Secretary del Rosario towards the Tunisian border. Another set of vehicles will take them from there to Djerba, the first Tunisian city after the border.

Secretary Del Rosario and Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban Conejos also visited the Philippine School in Tripoli, which has served as a relocation site for 87 Filipinos awaiting transit out of Libya.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs Office of Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) said that 72 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) arrived Sunday evening from Cairo on board Etihad Air.

The Filipinos were employees of Asia Konstruct, a sub-contractor of SNC Lavalin International, an engineering and construction firm.

With the DFA’s advisory to OFWs to avail of employer-organized repatriation, the Filipinos received Lavalin’s assistance in the arrangement of their evacuation from Benghazi to Al Sallum, a border town of Egypt. Lavalin also paid for their airfares.

The Filipinos were welcomed by representatives from the DFA Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (DFA-OUMWA) and from the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA).

Another batch of 130 OFWs from Doosan Heavy Industries are expected to arrive later this afternoon via Gulf Air.

Philippine Consul General to Malta Sara Grech likewise reported to the DFA that more than 200 OFWs are enroute and will arrive in Malta Monday morning (Malta time).

Pursuant to the instructions of President Benigno S. Aquino III, the DFA is on a full relocation and repatriation mode for its nationals in Libya, in view of the escalating violence and widespread insecurity there.

Apart from the Embassies near Libya, the DFA has mobilized its other Embassies and Consulates General to assist Filipinos who will be transiting their areas on the way to the Philippines.

“Our objective is to undertake the repatriation as quickly as possible. We are fully committed to ensuring the safety and welfare of our beloved Filipinos in Libya,” Secretary Del Rosario said.

In Manila, the DFA-OUMWA continues to attend to families of Filipinos in Libya, briefing them about the government’s measures being undertaken and in place.

There are also 24-hour landline numbers for families of Filipinos based in Libya, at 834-4580, 834-3245, 834-3240, and 834-4646. In cooperation with SMART Communications and Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) Company, a 24-hour “Libreng Tawag” is activated at the DFA, where the families of Filipinos can call their relatives in Libya.