By SAMMY JULIAN
Manila News Bureau Chief
MANILA – So far, only 51 out of the 13,122 Filipinos working and residing in Libya have registered with the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli for voluntary repatriation.
According to Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Charles Jose, Philippine officials are working out the immediate repatriation of this first batch of Filipinos in view of the continuing deterioration of the political and security situation in the North African nation.
The DFA raised the Crisis Alert Level in Libya from Level 2 (Restriction Phase) to Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation Phase) on May 29.
Under Crisis Alert Level 3, Filipinos working and residing in Libya are encouraged to leave the country voluntarily as soon as possible.
Jose said several days after the crisis alert level was raised, the situation in Libya remain very volatile.
“That is why we call on Filipinos to avail themselves of the voluntary repatriation program,” he told reporters. “The government will shoulder all the repatriation costs.”
Jose said a substantial number of Filipinos still want to remain in Libya because they still feel safe.
“What we want is for them to just leave and return to the Philippines and not for them to push their luck too far,” said the DFA spokesperson.
“We still do not know who is actually governing Libya,” he added. “There are a lot of militia groups making the situation there volatile.”
According to Jose, Filipinos who want to be repatriated need not personally appear at the embassy.
“They can just call because we have distributed to the Filipino community there the telephone numbers they can contact if they want to be repatriated,” he explained.
Jose said once they register and are able to produce the necessary documentation, they can immediately leave.
“We can even put them in a commercial flight just to take them out of Libya,” he said.
In case the airport is forced to shut down its services, Jose said the Philippine government has identified four different exit routes: two by land, two by sea./PN