By SAMMY JULIAN
Manila News Bureau Chief
MANILA – The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raised the Crisis Alert Level in the troubled country of Libya from Level 2 (Restriction Phase) to Level 3 (Voluntary Repatriation Phase) in view of the deteriorating political and security situation in the North African country.
Under Crisis Alert Level 3, the estimated 13,122 Filipinos working and residing in Libya are encouraged to leave the country voluntarily as soon as possible.
The Philippine government will shoulder the repatriation cost.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario flew to Tripoli, Libya to personally oversee the implementation of the Philippine government’s contingency plan there.
Filipinos in Libya are further advised to contact the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli to coordinate their repatriation.
Earlier this month, renegade Libyan general Khalifa Hifter launched a bloody military offensive to crush Islamist extremists.
On May 18, the general’s allied militias attacked parliament in the capital to force the legislature to disband, but failed.
Over the weekend, the embattled parliament approved an Islamist-backed government led by Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq despite boycotts from non-Islamists and Hifter’s complaints that the parliament is illegitimate.
Also, thousands of demonstrators gathered in cities across Libya to show support for Hifter, who later claimed the protests gave him a mandate to fight terrorism.
Upheaval in Libya dates to the 2011 uprising against long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi who imposed one-man rule for 42 years.
When he was killed following months of civil war, the nation lacked institutions or cohesive opposition groups to oversee a democratic transition.
Broader conflict now looms as militias once united to overthrow Gadhafi are rallying behind opposing political sides.
On May 20, Libya’s election commission set June 25 for a parliamentary election in the hope of dampening the unrest through a vote that would give lawmakers clear legitimacy./PN