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Bishops offer aid to returnees

Plan for counseling and advice to be given to workers coming back from Libya

Fr. Edwin Corros answers questions during a press conference Fr. Edwin Corros answers questions during a press conference
  • Jeffrey Agustero Asuncion, Manila
  • Philippines
  • March 11, 2011
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Filipino workers who fled political turmoil in Libya are to receive help through a so-called Post-Arrival Assistance Program, the head of the migrant’s commission of the bishops’ conference has said.

In a press briefing to announce activities for National Migrants’ Sunday celebrations, Scalabrinian Father Edwin Corros said the Episcopal Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People will coordinate with various dioceses to implement the program.

Counseling and advice will be given to the workers in dioceses with the help of Church people, local government authorities and volunteers.

The immediate problem, however, is how to get in touch with all the workers.

The government, through the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration has already given each repatriated worker 10,000 pesos (US$232) as part of a financial assistance program.

The labor department’s National Re-integration Office is also offering skills training and counseling for them.

The government move follows a call by Bishop Broderick Pabillo, executive director of the bishop’s social action secretariat, for measures to help overseas workers in emergencies like the one in Libya.

Meanwhile, a migrants’ rights advocate is urging the government to be better prepared for possible new turmoil.

Ellen Sana, executive director of the Center for Migrant Advocacy, said given the volatile history of the Middle East, the Philippine government should be preparing contingency plans for future problems.

“The government must have a course of action to help its citizens when they need it,” Sana said.

She said the response to the Libyan crisis demonstrated there is still much to be done regarding the coordination and implementation of repatriation.

“It seems many workers felt no one [from the government] was in charge of the repatriation,” Sana said.

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