Ensure safety of abducted OFWs in Libya, gov’t told

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“The Philippine government’s failure to safely secure our kababayans and to facilitate their urgent mass repatriation has caused the atrocity against one Filipina and the gruesome death of a Filipino. It is now time for accountability, the injustice done to them is the Aquino government’s fault.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — An overseas Filipino group is calling on President Aquino to ensure the safety and welfare of the Filipinos abducted in the strife-torn Libya.

A total of seven Filipinos were among the foreigners who were abducted by gunmen in an oil field in Libya since February. There are still no reports on their whereabouts, their conditions and the identity of their abductors.

“The Aquino government must do everything to ensure the safety of the abducted Filipinos. Should anything happen to them, it would mean more blood in Aquino’s hands,” Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson, said.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the Philippine embassy in Libya is coordinating with Libyan authorities to locate the OFWs, ensure their safety and immediate release.

In a statement, Migrante International said that since the crisis erupted in Libya, the Philippine government has dilly-dallied in facilitating the mass repatriation of Filipinos working there.

Martinez said the Philippine government has failed to provide “active intervention” to “locate, secure and ensure the safe passage of Filipinos” from conflict areas to Philippine consular or embassy offices.

In July 15 last year, a Filipino construction worker, Antonio Espares, was beheaded by alleged militants. Several days later, a Filipino nurse was also gang-raped,

“It is way past the time for the government to simply ‘lament’ that Filipinos are not heeding the mandatory repatriation call. They have crossed that line long ago. The Philippine government’s failure to safely secure our kababayans and to facilitate their urgent mass repatriation has caused the atrocity against one Filipina and the gruesome death of a Filipino. It is now time for accountability, the injustice done to them is the Aquino government’s fault,” Martinez said.

DFA estimates that there are still 4,000 Filipinos in Libya.

The OFW group said that thousands, too, are working in other conflict-torn countries such as Gaza, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria.

A forced choice

Migrante International said their fellow migrant workers could not be blamed if they opt to stay in these strife-torn countries than return to the country where there are “no jobs, livelihood, and security” for their families.

Their call, the OFW group said, coincides with the 20th year since the execution of Flor Contemplacion.

Martinez said, “We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out.” ()

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