VP Binay flies to Libya, Bahrain and Yemen‏

February 26, 2011 6:07 am 

MANILA, Feb. 25 – Vice President Jejomar Binay left Friday on a special mission to the Middle East to monitor closely the fast-moving developments in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, as they affect the safety and well-being of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there, and to propose appropriate solutions to problems as they occur.

Binay said that he will coordinate all efforts to respond to the needs of OFWs in those crisis-stricken areas and called on the Filipino people to pray for OFWs abroad.

“I ask all our countrymen to pray for the continued safety and well-being of all our workers and the success of this special mission for the President,” Binay said in his departure statement.

President Benigno S. Aquino III, who received last December an invitation from Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah to attend the celebration of Kuwait’s national day, designated Binay as his representative to the event.

Since Binay would be in the Middle East, the President also instructed him to closely monitor the government’s evacuation of OFWs in Libya.

“While this trip is primarily intended to honor a special invitation from the Amir, it provides us a most auspicious occasion… to demonstrate the President’s concern for all our overseas Filipinos there,” Binay said.

“It also affords us a rare opportunity to monitor closely the fast-moving developments in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen, as they affect the safety and well-being of our countrymen there, and to propose appropriate solutions to problems as they occur,” he added.

Based on reports from the Department of Foreign Affairs, there are places in Libya that are considered safe for OFWs. The government of Tunisia already agreed to serve as an exit point for OFWs departing from Libya. Representations will also be made with other neighboring countries to allow safe passage for OFWs

“An inter-agency committee has been set up in Manila to coordinate all efforts to respond to the needs of our workers in those crisis-stricken areas. Nonetheless, our first-hand monitoring of the crisis from within the region should help fortify that coordinated effort,” Binay said.

There are around 26,000 Filipinos in Libya, all of which are skilled and professional workers according to records of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration.

Binay boarded the Emirates flight EK333 at 5:50 p.m. While in the Middle East, he will be looking into the conditions of OFWs and will hold dialogues with Filipino groups.

The Vice President had asked the embassy in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Abu Dhabi to give him an update on the status of cases of OFWs and what actions have been taken by the embassies.

He will also meet with ranking officials in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates for bilateral talks on a host of issues, including the possible repatriation of overstaying OFWs.

“Outside of the special concerns generated by the present crisis in those areas, I intend to pursue whatever arrangements are necessary and possible to improve the general working conditions and status of our global workers in the Middle East, especially those working as domestics, and specifically those involved in cases needing immediate official help,” Binay said. (PNA)

DCT/OTO/utb

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