By Erma Edera
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has ordered a total deployment ban of overseas Filipino workers bound to Libya on Wednesday upon the advice of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) due to the escalating violence in the North African country.
“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.
Bello said they are still in close coordination with DFA to monitor the situation and to assess the possible repatriation of OFWs, and to ensure their safety and security.
“DOLE is ready to provide repatriation assistance to our Filipino workers who will signify interest to come home. An augmentation team will be dispatched this week to ensure the welfare of our workers, and assist their possible repatriation. Also, we are prepared for any exigency of forced repatriation if the situation deteriorates,” Bello said.
The labor chief said the implementation of the deployment ban will take effect until the situation normalizes, or until further advice by the DFA.
According to DOLE, there are around 2,600 documented OFWs in Libya, most of them are professionals such as medical workers and skilled workers.
Aside from repatriation aid, reintegration assistance from Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) will be given to OFWs who may be repatriated from Libya, the labor secretary said.
DFA on Monday raised Alert Level III in Tripoli and some areas within a 100-kilometer radius of the capital, which is considered as voluntary repatriation phase.
In November 2018, DOLE imposed the total ban on processing and deployment of OFWs to Libya when it the crisis level was at Alert Level 3.
In January, the ban was partially lifted when it was lowered to Alert Level 2.