Deeper reasons for Libya OFWs’ refusal to come home | Inquirer Opinion
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Deeper reasons for Libya OFWs’ refusal to come home

12:01 AM July 26, 2014

This refers to the article titled “Most OFWs in Libya ignore calls to come home” (News, 7/14/14) by Jerry E. Esplanada.

The first paragraph of the article states: “Only 515 of the more than 13,120 overseas Filipino workers in Libya, or nearly 4 percent have availed themselves of the government’s voluntary repatriation program.” While I would like to agree, there there may be deeper reasons for this.

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Ours is an OFW family which may be among many others painstakingly waiting for our loved ones to come home. However, due to some policies—specifically because the place where he is working (Tripoli, Libya) is zoned at Crisis Alert Level 1 under the “volunteer repatriation program” being implemented by our embassy—my father, Romeo L. Bobadilla, cannot avail himself of the volunteer repatriation program. According to my father, OFWs in areas below Crisis Alert Level 3 are required to get an exit permit/letter from their employers before their travel documents such as a visa could be processed.

Just a brief background of my father’s case: He had been working at the National Oil Wells Drilling and Workover Company in Libya for almost 20 years now. He was recently terminated by his employer without any hope of getting the compensation due him or his retirement benefits. Things got worse when the crisis in Libya erupted. His travel documents were put on hold as the offices started to close for safety reasons, which makes it impossible for him to seek an exit permit from his employer (which the embassy is requiring), let alone fight for his retirement benefits. As of now, he is still in their hostel in Tripoli, and for three months now has been hoping that things will get better. Unfortunately in his last call, made on July 13, he said that this might take long, until this December, to happen. (I am hoping no untoward incident will happen to him while he is waiting.) I would, therefore, like to appeal to our embassy and to Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz to review their “volunteer repatriation” policies as we might not be the only family having this problem. Please assist my father and facilitate his coming home. He is not even after the retirement benefits anymore. What is important to him and to us is for him to go home safely and spend the remaining years of his life with us.

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May I suggest that the Inquirer investigate closely the real reason 96 percent of OFWs in Libya have not availed themselves of the repatriation program, instead of concluding that most of them “ignore calls to come home.”

—LIEZEL M. BOBADILLA,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Letters to the Editor, Libya, OFW, opinion
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