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As the civil crisis still remains in Libya, thousands of overseas Filipino workers who had returned from this strife-torn African nation really deserve to receive financial assistance including those other batches of displaced OFWs who will be coming home soon. These Filipino workers had contributed a lot of dollars of remittances to the Philippines which really sustained the gloomy economic situation of our country.

(Manila, Philippines)

The Aquino administration was lauded by Labor group Federation of Free Workers (FFW) for the urgent repatriation of hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) confronting a brewing civil war in Libya.

FFW having a membership of 200,000 workers disclosed “despite the short preparation and limited resources, the action of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to rescue thousands of Filipino workers in the nick of time is laudable.”

FFW said it admired the government regardless that the latter had received criticism from several sectors which include legislators for its apparent slow reaction and insufficient coordination when the Libyan crisis erupted.

But that image has changed over the past week, with the DFA and the DOLE taking the lead.

“Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz deserve commendation,” FFW said.

Flag carrier’s support

The Federation also expressed its gratitude towards the assistance extended by the Philippine Airlines (PAL) to take part in the rescue mission for OFWs who are even now in Libya. 

Reports said PAL has spent man-hours and resources in preparing aircraft, pilots and crew as well as securing necessary over-fly and landing permits from the target pickup points identified by the DFA, so it can fly OFWs out of danger and bring them home to the Philippines.

Unemployment Insurance

FFW, likewise, urged the Aquino administration to initiate the adoption of an unemployment insurance program as part of the country’s Social Security System (SSS), amidst of the emergency repatriation of OFWs as a result of the heightened civil strife in Libya.

“The displacement of workers in Libya is a clarion call for the government to build-up funding for unemployment insurance and be more prepared for contingency of massive unavoidable workers’ displacement due to economic crises, calamities, war or other emergencies—like what is now happening in Libya.”

Unemployment insurance is not yet instituted in the nine pillars of the SSS.

Based on the joint reports of DFA and DOLE, approximately 13,000 OFWs are still staying in the North African country.

According to DOLE secretary Baldoz, there are 2,523 of more 12,000 returning OFWs from Libya have been evacuated from this strife-torn African nation and obtained their assistance amounting to Php10,000 each.

Baldoz said more OFWs applying for the one-time assistance being processed by the Philippine Trade Training Center (PTTC) are anticipated received the  given one-time financial assistance for these Filipino workers over the next few days.

“Had there been a viable unemployment insurance program already in place, our returning OFWs from Libya would have gotten more assistance, over a longer period of time,” FFW added.

FFW concluded. “It would have provided more security and given them better preparation for their next job or an alternative career as entrepreneurs.”