Where’s blueprint for protection of OFWs in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen?

Global alliance for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) Migrante International today demanded a “clear and proactive blueprint” from the Aquino government for the safety and protection of OFWs in conflict-ridden Libya, Bahrain and Yemen.

The situation in the three countries remain volatile as protesters rallying to oust their respective regimes are being violently dispersed and attacked by government and military forces.

There are currently 31,000 Filipinos in Bahrain, 26,000 in Libya and 1,400 in Yemen.

“We are worried because amidst alarming news from the media, phone and Internet lines have been cut and it has become very difficult to get in touch with our OFWs. On the other hand, we have here the DFA (Department of Foreign Affairs) stating that our Filipinos are ‘relatively safe’ and there is no need for repatriation. Yet they have already issued a travel advisory warning Filipino nationals from travelling to these countries. These are conflicting information, ano ba talaga ang totoong sitwasyon doon?” said Garry Martinez, Migrante International chairperson.

Martinez slammed what he called the government’s penchant for “last-minute actions”, such as what happened in Egypt recently.

Saka na lamang sila naglabas ng plano at aksyon noong putok na putok na ang krisis. In times like these, it is the responsibility of the government to have enough foresight to plan ahead. Where is the government’s blueprint for the protection of OFWs in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen now? O hihintayin pa ba muna nating may masaktan sa ating mga kababayan doon?”

According to news reports, at least 100 protesters have been killed by riot police and military in Libya.

Meanwhile, Migrante International has been receiving reports that OFWs are presently stranded, lacking in food and other supplies and fearing for their safety in the three countries.

Martinez said that they have been trying to get in touch with their organizers and coordinators in Libya and Bahrain but their efforts have so far been in vain since Internet and phone lines have been cut.

Tapos ang maririnig nating pahayag ng Malakanyang (through Deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte) ay ‘sana huwag humantong sa sabay-sabay silang tatlong kailangan i-evacuate’. That is not very comforting. Paano nga kung humantong sa ganoon? Ano na ang paghahanda ng gobyerno sa iba’t ibang posibleng scenario?” he said.

State of OFWs under Aquino administration going from bad to worse

Martinez said that they are terribly bothered by the situation of OFWs under the Aquino administration.

“If the last few days and weeks alone are any indication, the situation of our OFWs has gone from bad to worse under the Aquino administration. In a span of two weeks, we have borne witness to different faces of government neglect, incompetence and lack of political will and foresight that have all affected our OFWs directly or indirectly.”

He cited the cases of government inaction or late reaction to the plight of the three Filipino nationals on death row in China, the rift with Taiwan, growing number of stranded OFWs in the Middle East and the government’s slow reaction to the Egypt crisis, among others.

Sa lahat ng ito, walang matino, klaro at konkretong tugon ang Malakanyang. Kung gaano kabilis magbenta ng lakas-paggawa ang gobyerno sa ibang bansa, gayon naman kabagal ang reaksyon kapag OFW ang may problema,” said Martinez.

Migrante and its chapters worldwide are gearing for internationally-coordinated protests against government abandonment and attacks on the rights and welfare of OFWs on March 17, death anniversary of Flor Contemplacion. ###