Philippines gives Libya repatriates P10,000 each
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines announced on Thursday, August 7, a grant of P10,000 ($229) for Filipinos who fled strife-torn Libya, as part of a package that includes assistance in finding new jobs.
In a statement published Thursday, Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz said this is “one of the means to provide them with immediate financial relief.”
She said this should “cushion the impact” of losing their jobs in Libya.
Baldoz explained that the P10,000 “is a one-time grant” to each Filipino worker who followed the Philippine government's order to flee Libya, a North African country on the brink of civil war.
The grant covers displaced overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who got repatriated starting July 20, members of the Overseas Workers' Welfare Administration or not.
This amount is lower than the average monthly take-home pay of a minimum-wage earner in Metro Manila – P11,240 ($257) as of January.
The Philippines' Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), however, said the assistance package also includes services “to address the welfare, employment, legal, and livelihood needs of OFWs repatriated due to crises or emergency situations.”
Up to 2,973 of 13,000 Filipinos have decided to flee Libya, which has suffered chronic insecurity since dictator Moammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011.
Philippines denies joblessness
In another statement Tuesday, August 5, Baldoz stressed that Filipino repatriates from Libya can find jobs in the Philippines.
She said this after the Philippines' Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Monday, August 4, said Filipinos who refuse to leave Libya cite the fear of joblessness in the Philippines.
“They would rather take the chance. They think they have a greater chance of surviving the war, rather than surviving the uncertainty of being without any work here,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.
Baldoz, however, said on Tuesday: “There are local jobs for OFW repatriates, and it is unfair to say that OFWs in crisis-stricken countries ‘refuse’ to come home because there are no local jobs available.”
The government said the unemployment rate in the Philippines has dropped to 7% from 7.6% in 2013.
Baldoz said OFWs choose to stay abroad not because of joblessness in the Philippines, but “because of higher paychecks” overseas. (READ: PH at bottom 3 of 'world's wages')
The Philippines needs to convince around 10,000 of the original 13,000 Filipinos in Libya to flee.
Up to 2.2 million Filipinos have been forced to work abroad, as of 2013, largely due to the lack of jobs in the Philippines. – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
*P43.72 = $1