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Leader urges review as Filipinos flee

Concern for thousands working in strife-torn North Africa and Middle East

Leader urges review as Filipinos flee
Father Edwin Corros in a meeting with overseas Filipinos
Jeffrey Agustero Asuncion, Manila

February 24, 2011

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The head of the Catholic Church’s commission for Filipino migrant workers says events in the Middle East, especially Libya, present a need for the Philippine government to review its policy on overseas employment. “It’s clear from the Church’s point of view that labor migration should never be encouraged [because it places Filipinos in dangerous situations],” Father Edwin Corros said. The government, however, says it only regulates and does not explicitly promote overseas employment for Filipinos. For instance, it regularly issues a list of countries where it is safe for Filipino workers to go and work. Father Corros said the government’s response to the plight of an estimated 26,000 Filipino workers caught up in the violent upheaval in Libya shows the “unpreparedness” of the government in dealing with natural and man-made calamities. The government has come under fire for offering to help pay for Filipino workers to escape the violence on commercial flights out of Libya and the lack of a coordinated effort to help the workers. Reports are rife of Filipinos are seeking immediate help from the Philippine government. Father Corros, however, said it was too early to assess the government’s efforts since his commission has not received any feedback yet from migrant workers or Church people in Libya regarding the situation in the country. The Philippine foreign affairs department says it has already dispatched teams from the embassies in Cairo and the Libyan capital Tripoli to oversee the evacuation of Filipinos. It had also sought the help of the International Organization for Migration in arranging flights to bring citizens home. Expatriates from many other countries have also been fleeing Libya since anti-government began their bid to oust president Muammar Gaddafi. Many governments are sending aircraft and ships to assist in the evacuation of their nationals. Father Corros also admits difficulties in determining the situation of Filipinos in Yemen, due to a lack of contacts in the country. PM13426.1642

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