THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Wednesday, Feb. 4, confirmed that three overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) were among the seven foreigners captured by armed troops men who raided an oil field in Central Libya last Tuesday, Feb. 3.
In its official statement, the DFA said the Philippine embassy in Tripoli reported that the three abducted OFWs were working for the Sogepi SRL Italy Co.
“The DFA and the Philippine embassy in Libya are monitoring the situation and coordinating closely with their employers to ensure their safe return,” the statement said.
DFA spokesman Charles Jose, however, did not confirm nor deny reports saying some Filipinos have been killed in Libya. He clarified that they are still verifying the accounts.
Even before the abduction, Libya has been on crisis alert level 4. The Philippine government has continuously appealed to OFWs to avail the government’s repatriation program. But many preferred to continue working in the war-torn country.
According to DFA records, 4,000 Filipinos have been evacuated, but around 4,000 OFWs remain in Libya.
Upon learning the incident, Vice President Jejomar Binay, who is also the Presidential Adviser on OFW Concerns, urged OFWs to return to the country.
“I reiterate my appeal to our kababayans (countrymen) working there to please go back to our country,” Binay said.
He also addressed the families of those working in Libya to convince their kin to work in the Philippines instead.
“Muli, nananawagan po ako sa ating mga kababayan tulungang kumbinsihin ang kanilang mga kaanak sa Libya na huwag nang makipagsapalaran at bumalik na sa ating bansa. Handa po an gating pamahalaan na tulungan silang makauwi nang matiwasay para makasama nilang muli ang kanilang mga kapamilya (Again, I am calling the attention of our countrymen to help convince their family members in Libya to not gamble their safety and go back to the country instead. Our government is ready to aid them in their way home so that they can be with their families again),” Binay said.
He added that agencies, such as the Overseas Workers Welfare (OWWA) have put up a reintegration program for OFWs wherein they will be granted livelihood assistance and other benefits.
The Office of the Vice President hand-in-hand with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Philippine Embassy in Tripoli is monitoring the situation in Libya.
(With reports from Philstar.com)
(LA Weekend February 7-10, 2015 Sec. A pg.10)