MANILA: A total of 768 overseas Filipino workers from Libya arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on two chartered Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights on Saturday night and early yesterday, bringing the total number of repatriated OFWs to 2,727.
The first batch of 419 OFWs arrived at the NAIA Terminal 2 at around 10pm on Saturday. They were welcomed by Vice President Jejomar Binay, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) chief Rebecca Calzado.
The second batch of 349 OFWs arrived at NAIA-2 at nearly 4am yesterday, and were welcomed by Baldoz and Calzado. Baldoz and Calzado also briefed the displaced OFWs on the various government programmes aimed to mitigate the impact of their sudden job loss.
Both flights originated from Malta, where a Philippine-chartered ship ferried Filipinos from the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Misrata. Malta is an island in the Mediterranean Sea that is some 300km away from Libya.
Repatriation from Libya is being done by land through the Libya-Tunisia border and by sea passage to Malta. The government is also exploring the use of the Libya-Egypt border as a possible exit point, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The DFA raised Crisis Alert Level 4 on Libya last July 20, placing a total deployment ban on the North African country and calling for the mandatory repatriation of all OFWs.
As of August 14, the OWWA recorded 954 OFWs availing of the one-time cash Financial Relief Assistance Program (FRAP), 242 availing of temporary shelter at the OWWA Halfway Home, and 769 were provided money for transportation.
The Philippine Star