Tuesday, February 22, 2011

3 million OFWs in Middle East need immediate attention

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, February 22, 2011-Senator Manny Villar, chairman of the Senate trade committee said that there is a need for immediate attention for a thorough study on the implications of the spread of hostilities across more Middle East countries on world oil prices and the national economy where around 3,000,000 Filipinos are situated in the Middle East and North Africa, adding that an estimated 6,000 Filipinos are in Egypt, around 40,000 workers in Bahrain and more than 10,000 workers in Libya.

Villar urged the government to make sure that the embassies in these two countries are fully-supported with contingency funds and manpower to assist our workers to safety when the situation calls for it while outbreaks of violence continue the Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) advocate in the Senate said that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) should lose no time in coming up with the appropriate travel advisories to warn Filipinos against traveling to Bahrain and Libya.

In the rising political tension in the two countries, Villar said that there may be workers leaving the country who are unaware about what's going on in Bahrain and Libya, advising that it may be wiser and safer for them to wait until the situation normalizes.

He called that at the very least, these workers should be instructed to immediately get in touch with the Philippine Embassy upon arrival for better coordination as tensions continue to engulf the Middle East.

He added that there is a need to be vigilant and to be prepared to deal with its impact on tens of thousands of Filipino workers in the region as well as on the incomes of their families here at home.

“The world oil prices continue to be affected by outbreaks of violence in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Tunisia and Bahrain,” he said, adding that the soaring oil prices could lead to further erosion of incomes and savings here at home. Thus, the government needs to be completely thorough in studying the effects of a prolonged crisis in the Middle East on world oil prices and overseas remittances.

Earlier, Villar also urged the trade, energy and labor departments to come up with a comprehensive study and concrete proposals on how an escalation of hostilities between protesters and government forces could impact on the national economy and the welfare of overseas Filipino workers. (Jason de Asis)

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