Heads should roll on the evacuation fiasco – solons

LAWMAKERS Thursday said the officials not capable of handling the
repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) whose lives may be
endangered by the continuing rebellion and protest actions in Libya
and some Middle East countries must be fired.

The call was made by Rep. Neri Colmenares (Party-list, Bayan Muna)
even as he urged the government to adopt a continuing plan to
repatriate the OFWs who are now facing great dangers in many countries
in the Middle East.

Colmenares said the assessment of many experts and political analysts
that the complaint escalating in other countries and in the Middle
East is not a remote possibility because it is already happening.

Colmenares said those who were involved in the evacuation fiasco have
a lot of explaining to do. “Heads should have to roll. The OFWs and
their families will not accept any inefficiency and the government
doing nothing about it,” Colmenares said.

“A serious investigation is needed now.  These officials should not
resign.  The President should fire these non-performing and
inefficient officials,” Colmenares said.

The lawmaker said the officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs
(DFA), the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Overseas
Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) are not in a situation to
celebrate the evacuation of some 1,900 OFWs because there are some
26,000 Filipinos who were reported to have been working in Libya and
are awaiting government rescue.

According to Migrante, non-governmental organization, the number of
Filipinos working in Libya may reach 30,000 people since many of them
are undocumented.

Colmenares also asked officials to explain how the OWWA funds are
being used to repatriate the OFWs in Libya, Egypt and other countries.
“The OFWs themselves are asking how the OWWA funds are utilized by the
government. It is their contribution, the OWWA is only the caretaker
of that fund which could be amounting to billions of pesos,”
Colmenares said.

“How come other countries that do not have OWWA funds to speak of, are
able to repatriate their countrymen?” Colmenares asked.

Colmenares said there is no need to hire bright minds or specialists
in Middle East affairs because it will only cost much for the
government. “May we suggest that the DFA, DOLE and OWWA people monitor
worldwide television stations like CNN, BBC and Aljazeera and they
will find out easily what is happening out there,” the solon said.

Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan (Party-list, Gabriela) said the government
still has no clear “blueprint” on how to handle the repatriation of
OFWs in Libya and other Middle East countries.

“It seems the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing.
Are these officials coordinating with each other?” Ilagan asked.

Ilagan said the OFWs and their families have expressed disgust with
the government officials’ handling of the repatriation based on the
media interviews with them.

“The DFA, DOLE and OWWA failed to establish hotlines to show the
families of the OFWs in the country that they are being taken care of
by the government. If the families here feel abandoned, how much more
the OFWs in Libya,” Ilagan said.

“It is also important for the government to ensure the creation of
jobs for the OFWs displaced by the crisis in the Middle East.
Families of OFWs will not be able to survive on OWWA’s one-time
livelihood assistance,” Ilagan said.

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