Philippines sends foreign secretary to oversee Libya evacuation
The Philippines' foreign secretary left for Tunisia to oversee the evacuation of Filipinos from Libya as fleeing workers began to arrive home, a spokesman said Saturday, dpa reported.
Albert del Rosario left for Tunis Friday evening amid growing concern over the welfare of tens of thousands of Filipinos in Libya.
"Secretary del Rosario decided it was best that he went to Tunis himself to make sure that the evacuation is going on smoothly," said Ed Malaya, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
On Saturday, 36 Filipino workers from Libya arrived in Manila from Paris, where they were taken by their employer, a French construction company, after fleeing Tripoli.
They were among 97 Filipino employees of the French firm that were expected to arrive in Manila in batches Saturday.
A migrants organization criticized the Philippine government's slow response to help its citizens in Libya while some relatives complained of a lack of information.
About 26,000 Filipinos are in Libya. The Department of Labour and Employment estimated that 13,000 of them would need help to evacuate amid the escalating violence as government security forces confront protesters seeking leader Moamer Gaddafi's ouster. Hundreds and possibly thousands of demonstrators have been killed.
The Foreign Affairs Department said 134 Filipinos had left Libya while 300 others were being evacuated by their employer to a safe area in Tripoli.
The department has made arrangements for ferries to take Filipinos from Tripoli to Malta and those from Benghazi to Crete.
Flag-carrier Philippine Airlines has offered to mount emergency flights to evacuate Filipinos fleeing the unrest in Libya while the air force also placed its lone C-130 transport plane on standby.