21 February 2011
Citing the ‘not so reassuring’ pronouncement by the Aquino government spokespersons in regards to the safety of Filipino workers in Arab countries under volatile peace and order situation due to on-going massive protests of its own nationals, a Filipino migrant rights group in the Middle East today slammed what it says a “wait and see” instance by the Aquino government amid the worsening peace and order situation in at least 3 Arab countries.
John Leonard Monterona, Migrante-Middle East regional director, said his group had promptly conveyed to the post concerned the reports it have been receiving direct from OFWs who were worried of their situation amid the escalating protests and clashes in Bahrain, Yemen, and recently in Libya.
“What we are hearing so far from the government is denial that there is no OFWs trapped in Benghazi, Libya –that no OFWs are asking for help as they run out of food supply because they could not get out to buy foods,” Monterona added.
Monterona added that it highly appreciated the advisories issued by the concerned PH embassies in Bahrain, Riyadh which has jurisdiction to OFWs working in Yemen, and Libya, to stay away from protests and better settle at their respective quarters.
Yesterday, at around 10:45 a.m. (Saudi time) Mr. Gil Lebria, Migrante country coordinator in Libya, called on Monterona informing latter of the request of the 1,700 OFWs working at an airport being constructed in Benghazi, Libya.
“At about 4:00 p.m. yesterday, I called on Doris Nebatad, chairwoman of an OFW organization in Benghazi, Libya; she said they could not see the presence of Embassy staff despite plea from them for assistance. PH embassy staff may are only staying at their offices in Tripoli, which is about 800km far away from Benghazi where the protests and violence erupted,” Monterona averred.
“What worries our fellow OFWs in Benghazi is that their passports and other pertinent travel documents are with their employers; in case of emergency they could not easily get hold of it, thus it poses a problem to get out of Libya,” Monterona added.
Monterona added: “Lebria informed me that the 1,700 OFWs would like to convey to the PH government through its PH embassy in Tripoli, about 800 kilometers far from Benghazi, that they be given food as they run out of food supplies, they could not get out of the project site.”
“We can’t simply turn our back and dismiss the request for help by our fellow OFWs who are much worried of their safety and need food, thus we urged the PH embassy in Libya which offices are located in Tripoli, to find ways providing the needed assistance to our trapped OFWs,” Monterona lamented.
“We could only hope and pray that there would be no casualties among Filipino workers in these troubled Arab countries; we might be wrong in saying that the Aquino govt. is waiting a Filipino casualty before acting seriously providing safety to our fellow OFWs in these troubled Arab countries, but ours is raising a serious concern,” Monterona ended. # # #
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator