Authored by: Nicon Fameronag (Former undersecretary DOLE) Date posted: Dec 10, 2017
The Lilac Center for Public Interest, a policy research and advocacy and public communication organization, yesterday called on the Department of Foreign Affairs to conduct a review of the security situation in Libya with the end in view of recommending to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to lift the ban on the deployment of OFWs to that country.
The Center also urged the DOLE to make good on its promise made in March this year to consider lifting the partial deployment ban and to immediately assign a labor attaché to Libya to look into employment opportunities and attend to the welfare of OFWs there.
“It has been more than a year since the last assessment and evaluation of the security situation in Libya. A lot of fast developments has happened already and we are sure the road towards stability in Libya has tremendously improved,” Nicon F. Fameronag, Lilac Center president, said in a statement.
Fameronag, formerly DOLE undersecretary for employment, cited the ceasefire between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, and the Libyan National Army, which controls parts of Eastern Libya, which was brokered by France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in July, as well as the forthcoming elections in the first quarter of 2018, as clear signs that Libya is slowly but surely stabilizing.
Saying Libya is a loyal and supportive friend of the Philippines for the last 40 years, Fameronag said it is high time the government should assist Libya in its rebuilding effort by providing the country excess expert manpower and skills.
Libya has been a strong supporter of the Philippines in its efforts to forge peace in Mindanao, starting with the Tripoli Agreement in 1976. All throughout Libya’s descent to civil strife from 2011 to 2014, Libya has never closed its embassy in the Philippines, even as the Philippines has downgraded its staff complement in Tripoli.
“Lifting the deployment ban to Libya will ease the very high unemployment of health workers in the Philippines, particularly nurses, who are much in demand. Libya only hires skilled and professional workers in the medical field, oil and gas, construction, and the education sectors. Imagine if we are able to deploy our unemployed licensed nurses, currently estimated at 300,000, we will ease the country’s unemployment problem,” the Lilac Center official said.
Fameronag’s call for the lifting of the partial deployment ban of OFWs to Libya comes in the wake of the series of visits by Libyan employers from the oil and gas, construction, academe, and health sector to dialogue with Philippine labor and foreign affairs officials and impress upon them that the security situation in Libya is now normal. One Libyan hospital administrator alone said his hospital needs more than 300 Filipino nurses.
And with the Libyan Central Bank and Libya’s Ministry of Health promising a pay increase of up to 40 percent, salaries of OFWs who will work in Libya will receive bigger paychecks than their counterparts elsewhere in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
From a high of 26, 000 OFWs in 2011, the presence of Filipinos in Libya is now down to over 3,000, with the forced repatriation of 10,000 OFWs in 2011 and another 10,000 in 2014, Fameronag explained.
A former undersecretary for employment of the DOLE, the author is the president of
the Lilac Center for Public Interest, Inc., a policy research and advocacy think-tank.