By Analou De Vera
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is bracing for a possible forced repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Libya as violence continues in the African state.
An augmentation team is set to be deployed in Libya next week, said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III.
“Sa ngayon level 3, voluntary repatriation. Yung gustong umuwi ay tutulungan namin kasama namin ang DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs). Pero pagka-level 4 na eh forced repatriation na yan, ipapauwi talaga namin sa gusto nila o hindi,” Bello said on Thursday. [As of now it is level 3, voluntary repatriation. Those who want to go home, we will help them in coordination with the DFA. If it is raised to level 4, that’s forced repatriation already.]
“In fact, early next week magpapadala na po ako ng augmentation team na kung saka-sakali na magkakaroon ng forced repatriation,” he added. (Early next week, I will be deploying an augmentation team if ever there will be a forced repatriation.)
Around 2,600 Filipinos are working in Tripoli, majority of them are medical and skilled workers.
On Wednesday, the labor department has ordered a total deployment ban of OFWs bound to Libya upon the advice of the foreign affairs department.
“The implementation of the deployment ban will take effect until the situation normalizes, or until further advice by the DFA with which DOLE is closely coordinating with,” the labor department said.