15 Filipino repatriates to arrive from Libya

Marje Pelayo   •   May 30, 2019   •   1445

MANILA, Philippines – Fifteen (15) Filipinos are expected to arrive home to the Philippines on Thursday (May 30) as part of the Philippine Embassy’s efforts to repatriate Filipino workers affected by the conflict in Tripoli, Libya.

The civil war in Libya which broke out almost two months ago prompted the repatriation of around 70 Filipinos, as of this writing.

The latest batch of repatriates which include five minors and two Islamic scholars, are now en route to Tunis where they will board their connecting flight to Manila via Dubai, according to Embassy Chargè d’Affaires and Head of Mission Elmer Cato.

They are expected to arrive in the country Thursday afternoon.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli reiterated its appeal to the more than 1,000 other Filipinos still in Tripoli and to their families to convince their loved ones in Libya to accept the government’s repatriation offer or to, at least, move themselves to safer ground.

According to Chargé d’Affaires Cato, they have lost contact with several Filipinos who refused to leave even if heavy fighting between conflicting factions are taking place in their areas.

The Embassy “expressed serious concern” over the safety of some 40 Filipinos in areas where fierce fighting continues, including 14 Filipinos working for Al Nahr Company and 18 Filipino nurses from the Al Afia Clinic that was struck by mortar rounds last month.

115 feared dead after worst Mediterranean shipwreck of the year

Robie de Guzman   •   July 26, 2019

Female migrant wiping tears from eyes after a wooden boat carrying migrants capsized off Libya. | Courtesy: Reuters

The UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR, says up to 150 people are feared dead after a wooden boat carrying migrants capsized off Libya.

The head of the UNHCR, Filippo Grandi, said in a tweet that it was the worst such tragedy in the Mediterranean this year.

The Libyan navy said it had rescued 134 people, with 115 missing, feared drowned.

It said about 250 people were on board the ship when it capsized off the coast near Khoms, east of the capital Tripoli. Most are thought to be from Eritrea and other sub-Saharan Africa and Arab countries.

Dozens of survivors were brought to Khoms after being rescued. A Sudanese migrant, Sabah Youssef, who lost her seven-year-old son in the sinking, blamed the International Organization for Migration for turning her away when she went to them for help.

Libya is a hub for migrants and refugees, many of whom try to reach Europe in unseaworthy boats. The latest shipwreck takes the death toll of Mediterranean migrants to over 600 this year. (REUTERS)

(Production: Seham Eloraby, Hywel Davies)

DFA warns Filipino jobseekers against recruitment to Libya

Marje Pelayo   •   July 24, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has warned Filipino job seekers against individuals in the Philippines who have been recruiting workers to Libya.

The DFA emphasized through the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli that recruitment, processing, and deployment of Filipinos in the Philippines or abroad remains suspended for all jobs in Libya.

“The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has also informed the Embassy that it has not issued any approval to any individual or agency in the Philippines and in Libya to recruit and deploy nurses, engineers, and other workers to Libya,” the Embassy added.

According to the advisory, only Filipinos with existing work contracts and certificates of exemption from the Embassy and those who are on vacation in the Philippines are allowed to return to Libya.

Amid the escalating civil war in Libya, the Embassy said it is currently working with Libyan authorities to ensure the safety and security of Filipino workers in the North African state.

The Embassy reminds Filipinos recruiting jobseekers to Libya from the Philippines and other countries that they are liable for violating the law in accordance with the Anti-Trafficking Persons Act and the Migrant Workers Act.

The DFA encourages the public to report such illegal activities to the DFA, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration or other concerned agencies of the government in the Philippines.

Those abroad may report to the Philippine Embassy and Consulates in their host countries for any act of illegal recruitment to the conflict-stricken nation.

Villanueva expects gov’t commitment to protect Filipino workers on Duterte SONA

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019

Senator Joel Villanueva

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday said he is looking forward to hearing President Rodrigo Duterte’s push to protect and promote the interests of Filipino workers in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 22 (Monday).

In a statement, Villanueva said he is particularly eager to find out the outcome of the Security of Tenure bill, popularly known as the “End Endo” bill, which seeks to put an end to the practice of illegal labor contracting.

The president asked Congress to pass the bill at last year’s SONA, certifying the measure as urgent. Congress was able to pass the bill in the 17th Congress and transmitted it to Malacañang last month.

“The bill adheres to the Constitution, which mandates the regulation of relations between workers and employers, recognizing the right of labor to its just share in the fruits of production and the right of enterprises to reasonable returns on investments, and to expansion and growth,” Gatchalian said.

“Thus, the Security of Tenure bill manages to strike a balance between contrasting interests of labor and employers,” he added.

Villanueva expressed hope that Duterte would sign the measure into law.

The lawmaker also expects the president to discuss other measures that will advocate for the interest of Filipino labor.

He cited the rise of illegal foreign workers and the Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGO) sector as a growing cause for concern, saying its effects to the country’s economy must be carefully monitored.

“We have to be careful about this new industry because the benefits we stand to lose may be greater than those we could gain,” Villanueva said.

He said he intended to file a resolution to examine the supposed benefits from the POGO industry.

Villanueva reiterated his earlier position that POGO sector’s impact is minimal, at best, since it primarily does not create employment opportunities for Filipinos, and the industry’s rise is causing stress in the real estate market to the detriment of Filipino businesses and workers.

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