Do everything to ensure safety of four abducted Filipinos in Libya, gov’t told

03012011_stranded_ofws_migrante_libyaMigrante International condemns in strongest terms the recent abduction of four Filipinos in an attack on a Libyan oilfield last week. Migrante International holds the Philippines government accountable for the continuing danger in the lives and welfare of Filipinos in the country and other conflict-riddled parts of the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region.

Since the crisis erupted in Libya, the Philippine government has been slow to action in ensuring their safety and dilly-dallying in facilitating their urgent mass repatriation.

The news of the abduction comes in the wake of confirmed reports that another three Filipinos were abducted by Islamic State jihadists last month. Their condition remains unknown.

Last July 15, 2014, another Filipino construction worker, Antonio Espares, was beheaded by alleged militants. Espares’ wife has expressed dismay over the Aquino government’s handling of her husband’s case and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ “cavalier” attitude towards her husband’s violent death.

A few days after news of Espares’ death broke, a Filipina nurse was also gang-raped by alleged terrorists.

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

Like before, Martinez said, the Philippine government’s so-called mandatory repatriation is not working. There is no active intervention on the part of the Philippine government to locate, secure and ensure the safe passage of Filipinos from conflict areas to PH posts. Aside from announcing it, there remains no clear blueprint from the government on how the mandatory repatriation is supposed to take place.

“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,” he said.

Migrante International also blames the slow repatriation process on the government’s lack of a sustainable reintegration program for returning overseas Filipino workers. Of present, there are at least 13,000 Filipinos in Libya, while tens of thousands more are based in conflict-riddled Gaza, Iraq, Kuwait and Syria.

“We cannot blame our kababayans if they would opt not to return to the Philippines because no jobs, livelihood and security for their families await them here should they decide to return. The Philippine government is also mainly accountable for placing our kababayans in the situation they are in now,” Martinez said.

Lastly, Migrante International condemns the Aquino government’s continuous support for the United States despite US-backed wars in these conflict-riddled countries. Aquino’s dogged support for the US is another factor that places our OFWs in clear and present danger.

These recent atrocities and injustice against Filipinos in Libya further crystalize the demand of Filipinos all over the world to hold BS Aquino accountable for his criminal negligent and incompetent government. Migrante International reiterates the demand for Aquino to resign, or be ousted by Filipinos around the world.

The plight of OFWs in conflict-ridden areas will be one of the major issues that Migrante International will bring forth on March 17, the 20th death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. Members of Migrante International from all over the world will march to Mendiola to reiterate their call for Aquino to step down from office. “We do not want more OFWs to die of government failure and criminal neglect. We want Aquino out.”

Migrante International is part of NOW! (Noynoy Out Now!), a broad multisectoral formation calling for Aquino’s resignation and the formation of a People’s Council to replace him. ###

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