QUEZON City, August 22, 2014— Two Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) described their recent repatriation experience from Libya “traumatic”, blaming the government for the less-than-stellar handling of the process.
OFW Juan Miguel García revealed over Radyo Veritas that many of the 1, 500 OFWs, who had agreed to be repatriated back to the Philippines from Libya, had allegedly been without food on the two-day sea voyage to Malta, the first stop-over of the trip.
He particularly lamented the plight of women who, he described, had to sleep on the floor.
García blames members of the repatriation team led by one Labat Dizon for the traumatic experience they had allegedly been through.
Jerome Alvarez, another OFW, seconded García’s claim, saying that even previous repatriation programs of the government have less than impressive records.
He shared that in 2011, during a similar rescue mission, the leader of the then repatriation team had allegedly charged the Philippine government to fly 300 Filipino employees back to the Philippines even though their transportation expenses had been shouldered by their companies.
Amid such issues of corruption, a Filipino priest based in Libya called on the Philippine government officials to make a public declaration of all financial transactions concerning the repatriation of OFWs in the conflict-ridden country.
Fr. Amado Baranquel, parish priest of Mary Immacolata Catholic Churchin Benghazi, insisted on the importance of transparency on the part of government officials in order to dispel rumors that funds supposedly meant for the repatriation of OFWs have become a source of corruption.
“All the expenses have to be audited for us to really know where all these funds are going,” said the priest.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) reported that the government has spent P169 million on transporting 1,500 OFWs on board a rented ship from Tripoli, the Libyan capital, to Malta.
From Malta, the Filipinos will be flown back to the Philippines. (Raymond A. Sebastián)