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DOLE still weighing if OFWs will be brought home from Libya: ‘Di naman daw sila apektado

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MANILA — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is assessing if there is a need for Filipino workers in Tripoli, Libya to come home amid the ongoing conflict there, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this remark after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that only a few Filipino workers in Libya want to return home despite the repatriation assistance offered by DOLE.

“Secretary Bello, he is handling the situation rightly, correctly. So, kasi marami ang nagsasabi doon na hindi naman daw sila affected kasi malayo (There are many saying that they’re not affected because they’re far from the conflict zone),” said Panelo in a Palace briefing.

Bello earlier said only 20 percent or 800 out of the 4,000 Filipinos living in Tripoli have expressed willingness to return home.

“So, baka masyado namang hasty kung papauwiin natin, wala naman (It might be too hasty if we ask them to return home if they’re not really affected),” he said.

Panelo said the labor department will thoroughly review the situation at hand.

“So, depende sa sitwasyon (It will depend on the situation). Again, that will be a studied reaction, titingnan natin ang sitwasyon bago tayo kumilos (let’s review the situation before taking action),” he added.

Earlier, the DOLE ordered a total deployment ban of Filipino workers bound for Libya upon the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

“Upon the advice of the DFA, we are imposing a deployment ban of workers to Libya to ensure their safety and security and to avoid getting caught in the escalating violence in Libya,” Bello said in a statement.

Both the DOLE and the DFA are closely monitoring the situation and assessing the possible repatriation of OFWs, to ensure the workers’ safety and security.

On Monday, the DFA raised Alert Level 3 in Tripoli and some areas within a 100-kilometer radius of the capital, which is considered as voluntary repatriation phase.

The implementation of the deployment ban will take effect until the situation normalizes, or until further advice by the DFA.

Last week, Libyan security forces were placed on alert after units loyal to the rival Libyan National Army announced they have begun advancing towards Tripoli, triggering limited clashes south of the capital that left one person dead.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres initially expressed “deep concern” over the military movement and the risk of confrontation it poses. (PNA)

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