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DOLE expects to repatriate 3,000 more OFWs out of war-torn Libya

The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) yesterday said it expects 3,000 more distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFW) to seek repatriation from war-torn Libya in the coming weeks.

Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Libya, Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said this was the projected number of the remaining OFWs in the African country expected to avail themselves of the government’s mandatory repatriation.

“Initially, we projected 11,000 OFWs will register for the repatriation. But now we lowered this to 6,000,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz said the government has already pulled out around 3,096 out of the estimated 13,000 OFWs from Libya since it started repatriation efforts there last month.

This includes the 736 OFWs, who were repatriated during the weekend through a government chartered ship and planes.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) earlier said they expect most of the OFWs, particularly in the medical sector, will still opt to stay in Libya to continue serving their employers and their patients.

The government has committed to continue repatriating OFWs in Libya until security situation there normalizes.

It, however, said this it is not considering deploying more chartered ships and planes in Libya for now.

“We will only charter more ships and planes if we will receive another large bulk of repatriation requests from OFWs in Libya,” Baldoz said.

Baldoz also said Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) and other government agencies will extend welfare, employment, livelihood, and legal aid to the OFWs.

As of August 19, OWWA said it was able to provide aid to 2,917 repatriated OFWs.

Baldoz said the most requested help from OWWA remains overseas job assistance, followed by transportation assistance, and livelihood assistance.

Meanwhile, Baldoz said she has ordered Labor Attaché to Libya Melchor Dizon to return to the country to undergo inquiry for purportedly mistreating repatriated OFWs.

News reports said Dizon supposedly neglected providing proper accommodation to some distressed OFWs, who boarded the government chartered Maltese ship, M/S Bridge, during the weekend to escape conflict-torn Libya.

The report claimed Dizon allowed some of the repatriates to sleep on the cabin floor of the sea vessel.

“We will recall him for proper investigation,” Baldoz said in a text message.

She said she would impose the necessary sanctions against the official if he will be proven to have violated any DOLE regulation

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) also said it is now verifying the incident by conducting its own probe.