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DFA: Over 100 Filipinos in Libya backed out of evacuation


(Updated 8:21 p.m.) Over 200 Filipino workers in conflict-torn Libya have backed out of the government-organized mass evacuation, about half of them choosing to go home at their employer's expense instead, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.

From 1,100, the number of Filipinos who have expressed their intention to leave has gone down to 842 after 258 had a change of heart, Foreign Affairs spokesman Charles Jose told a press briefing, 

The 1,500-seater vessel that was chartered by the Philippine government to ferry the stranded Filipinos to Malta is scheduled to dock in the first port of pick-up in Benghazi at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Out of the 490 who initially registered for evacuation in Benghazi, only 477 told Philippine officials that they will board the ship to Malta, Jose said.

After Benghazi, the chartered vessel will proceed to Misrata to pick up another batch of 365 Filipinos. In the original list, 610 workers in Misrata said they will join the evacuation.

The actual figure, Jose explained, could still change when the actual boarding of passengers take place. Asked if the number of passengers could increase or further decrease, Jose replied: “Anything is possible.”

Clarification

Jose, during the press briefing, said those who backed out contacted Philippine evacuation coordinators, but did not give a specific reason as to why they refused to leave Libya.

Later, however, he issued a clarification via text, saying those "[t]he numbers went down because over a hundred employees who registered for mass repatriation were sent home at their company's expense."

The Philippine government commissioned the ship for €1.4 million or about $1.8 million as most exit routes out of Libya, which is grappling with months of civil unrest, have closed down.

Evacuation by land through the Libya-Tunisia border and by sea are the only passable routes since the international airport in Tripoli was shut down.

“Of course we want them all to be safe, to keep them out of harm’s way, but they backed out. So we are calling on the relatives of the workers in Libya who are here in the Philippines to encourage them to return home,” Jose said.

There were 13,000 Filipino workers across Libya before the second civil war, but less than 2,000 have left since Manila enforced the mandatory evacuation of all Philippine citizens.

Many prefer to stay and are unfazed with the raging violence, citing lack of jobs back home.

Last month, a Filipino construction worker was beheaded by militants while a Filipina nurse was gang-raped amid the prevailing lawlessness and lack of a functioning government. —KBK, GMA News
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