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Legarda: As Tension in Libya Escalates, Action Plans to Ensure Safety of Filipinos Must Be Ready for Execution Anytime

February 23, 2011

AS UNREST WORSENS IN SOME COUNTRIES IN THE MIDDLE EAST, PARTICULARLY IN LIBYA WHERE PROTESTERS AND SECURITY FORCES HAVE ENGAGED IN BLOODY CLASHES, SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA TODAY CALLED ON THE GOVERNMENT TO GUARANTEE THE SAFETY OF FILIPINOS BY MAKING SURE THAT A DEFINITE PLAN OF ACTION IS IN PLACE AND READY FOR EXECUTION ANY TIME.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, cited a report from the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) that the protests in Libya have already resulted to up to 400 deaths.
“The worsening situation in Libya requires a more definite plan of action on the part of the Philippine government to ensure the safety and wellbeing of 25,000 Filipinos in Libya. As it is, nearly 2,000 Filipinos are already trapped in an airport construction site in Benghazi. More are expected to be affected as the violent repression of protests continues,” she said.
The Senator added that concerned Philippine government agencies have yet to respond to the situation in a more proactive manner, noting that the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration, in its statement, said that it is still waiting for the Department of Foreign Affairs to make its move.
Meanwhile, the DFA has already requested the International Organization for Migration Assistance for support in facilitating the return of Filipinos to Manila.
“Given the situation in Libya, our government cannot afford to have a wait-and-see attitude. We need to be able to evacuate our countrymen from areas where there is clear and present danger,” Legarda stressed.
“Apart from just keeping close tabs on the situation of Filipinos in Libya and other hotspots in Yemen and Bahrain, standby plans for relocation or evacuation should already be in place and ready for activation any time. The DFA should be prepared to bring our citizens home any time,” Legarda concluded.