Bishops appeal for release of Filipinos snatched in Libya

Two other Filipinos abducted in Iraq have already been released, authorities say
Bishops appeal for release of Filipinos snatched in Libya

Thousands of Filipinos apply for work abroad because of lack of opportunities in the country. Most overseas migrant workers end up in the Middle East. (Photo by Angie de Silva)

Catholic Church leaders in the Philippines have appealed for the release of three Filipino migrant workers abducted in Libya.

The three, who were working as technicians, were abducted on July 6, the Philippines Foreign Ministry reported. Two Filipino women abducted on the same day in Iraq have since been released, it emerged on July 9.

"We thank God for the successful rescue of our two compatriots," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.

"Their safe recovery would not have been possible without the swift response of our Iraqi friends and for that we are very grateful," he said.

Catholic Church leaders in Manila had earlier appealed to authorities "to exhaust all means" to free the Filipinos.

What the Filipino workers wanted was "to make lives of all better," said Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, head of the Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People.

"They migrate to other countries with the sole intention to serve and help their employers and their loved ones whom they left behind." 

He also called on Catholics to pray for the "change of hearts of the kidnappers."

According to reports received by the Philippine embassy in Iraq, the Filipino women were heading to Baghdad from Erbil in the northern Kurdistan region when armed men stopped their vehicle on a highway.

In Libya, the Philippine embassy in Tripoli said three Filipino technicians were among four foreign nationals taken by armed men from a waterworks project site.

Charge d'affaires Mardomel Melicor said armed men entered the construction site located 500 kilometers from Tripoli and took five foreigners and four Libyan nationals.

The armed men later released one of the foreign workers and all the Libyans.

There are about 4,000 Filipinos working in Iraq, 3,000 of whom are based in Kurdistan.

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