Only 3,400 of OFWs in Lebanon Could Come Home

No gov’t plan for those in Israel, other ME countries

A migrant group bares that only 3,400 out of the 34,000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Lebanon will be repatriated by the Philippine government. Worse, it has no crisis management plan in case the war escalates in the Middle East region.


A migrant group revealed that the government plans to save only 10 percent of about 34,000 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the war-torn Lebanon, and worse, it has no crisis management plan yet if the war escalates region wide.

Quoting a source at the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Migrante Sectoral Party (MSP) spokesperson Garry Martinez disclosed that the government plans to repatriate only 10 percent or about 3,400 OFWs in Lebanon.

Migrante International is an alliance of 96 migrant organizations in 22 countries composed of OFWs and their families.

Martinez described the informant as a “top level source,” who has “first-hand knowledge” in the evacuation of OFWs in Lebanon.

Mukhang nakukunsensya siya sa ginagawa ng gobyerno dahil involved din siya dito,” (He was bothered by his conscience at being involved with what the government is doing) he said.

Martinez said this could be the government’s “grand plan,” to wait for the war to worsen and make it the reason to no longer enter Lebanon.

“’Yung installment na pagpapauwi ng mga kababayan natin ay para sabihin lang na may ginagawa ang gobyerno araw-araw,” (Our compratriots are being sent home in small batches, just to make it appear that the government is doing something everyday) Martinez said.

Labor Secretary Arturo Brion had earlier explained that the evacuation of OFWs is mandatory only in southern Lebanon where the alert level has been raised to four. Evacuation in central and northern Lebanon is still voluntary where the alert level remained at three.

The migrant leader also said that the government’s plan to put a big Philippine flag on top of the Miraculous Medal Sassine Church in Beirut, where OFWs have taken refuge, would not save the migrant workers from the Israeli attacks.

Walang mata ang bomba,di makakakilala ‘yan. Tatama ‘yan kahit saang lugar. Kahit may flag ka o wala, tatamaan ka n’yan,” (Bombs have no eyes. It will strike anywhere, whether there is a flag or not) he said noting that the nearest bomb hit just five kms. away from the church.


The Philippines repatriated the first batch of OFWs on the 10th day since the bombing started, while France responded earliest, bringing home its nationals on the third day.

The slow response of the government to repatriate the OFWs in Lebanon showed it has no crisis management plan yet, Martinez said. He stressed that this being a Lebanon-Israel crisis, a crisis management plan should have also been in place for about 30,000 OFWs in Israel. Martinez’s wife, Jocelyn, is in Israel.

Jocelyn, 36, works as a caregiver in Kadima, a three-hour trip away from Israel’s capital Tel Aviv. Martinez echoed his wife’s complaint that up to this writing, she has not heard of an evacuation plan for migrant workers like her if strikes against her host country escalates.

Because of this, Martinez was forced to talk to his wife’s employer for her safety. The employer, a Swiss-Israeli, promised to take Martinez’s wife out of Israel in case of a worse scenario.

“If the government could not repatriate the 30,000 OFWs in Lebanon, has no plan for those in Israel, how could it save the other OFWs in other Middle East countries in case of a regionwide war?” Martinez said, adding that there are about 1.5 million OFWs deployed in the Middle East.

Share This Post