To hell and back

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By Benjie R. Pangan

At Close Range

Thursday, August 7, 2014


OUR MODERN-DAY HEROES, the OFWs or overseas Filipino workers, are in a quandary again. It is whether or not to answer the government's call for evacuation from strife-torn Libya an oil rich African country but which state of government is chaotic and dangerous.

The government order to evacuate was explicit but there were few takers: out of about 13,000 OFWs in Libya, only more than 831 responded positively to the call. We cannot blame those who resisted repatriation. To them, it is better to perish quickly in Libya than to endure a slow sure death in the Philippines. To them, the income they earned shields them from fear and homesickness and would rather risk their lives than to see their loved ones suffer from want and deprivation in the country.

No less than Charles Jose, Assistant Secretary of the Department Foreign Affairs who said: "The usual reason we hear from them is that they would rather take the chance they think they have greater chances of surviving the war there than if surviving uncertainty without jobs here".

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So despite the danger, many Filipinos in Libya have ignored the government's order for mandatory evacuation.

Previously, a ban was issued to Filipino overseas workers in Libya but due to insistent demand, it was lifted because of numerous requests from workers who have contracts to fulfill.

So in demand are Filipino workers in Libya that their hospitals would suffer total collapse if all the Filipino doctors and nurses, are taken back home.

Even then, the Department of Labor and Employment would find it hard to source openings for retrenched workers since these are more experienced and skilled in their line of work than the rest of the labor market.

The POEA and DOLE are hard put to deploy more OFWs in order to sustain the level of their foreign remittances, so essential to keep our nation and its economy afloat for years.

There are other markets in Asia for our overseas workers but they (OFWs) prefer more lucrative albeit risky jobs.

Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on August 08, 2014.

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