Libya wants PH workers, seeks lifting of hiring ban

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The Libyan government renewed its appeal for the Philippine government to lift the ban against the new hiring of Filipino workers, saying the security situation has improved since 2014.

Libyan Embassy chargé d’affaires Ahmed Eddeb said he understood the concern for the safety of Filipino workers so he had been asking Philippine officials to reevaluate the situation.

“We care about the Filipino people. We greatly value their contribution to the Libyan economy either in the oil fields or in humanitarian assistance in hospitals and clinics,” Eddeb said.

“If there’s a risk for them, we would not (ask) for the lifting of the ban,” Eddeb told reporters at the Libyan Embassy in Makati.

Libyan employers prefer to hire Filipino workers in the oil field, medical and construction sectors due to their proven competence and dedication, Eddeb said.

Before the 2011 uprising that led to the ouster and death of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, there were 26,000 Filipino workers in the North African nation.

In 2011, the Philippine government repatriated about 10,000 workers and another 4,000 workers in 2014 when civil war broke out.

As of July this year, only around 3,000 Filipinos work in Libya, according to the Libyan Embassy.

The Philippines stopped the deployment of Filipino workers to Libya in 2011. It lifted the ban the following year, but reimposed it in 2014 due to the deterioration of the political and security situation.

The Philippine government agreed in September 2016 to downgrade the ban from Level 4 to Level 2.

Under Level 2, only returning workers could be rehired and Libya still could not hire new workers despite the high number of job orders.

Eddeb said the situation had improved since the last evaluation was made in August 2016, and asked the Philippine government to reconsider on “humanitarian” grounds.

“We need more than 26,000 Filipino workers to [help] repair, rebuild and rehabilitate [our country],” he said.

“We did our best in convincing officials of the Philippines to lift the ban totally. They are still very worried about the safety of workers,” he said.

“Our main request is just try to reevaluate the security situation in Libya. We see the situation is normal now,” Eddeb added.

He said Filipinos were respected in Libya and employers had committed to ensure their safety.

Salam Ali Omar, administrator of Ali Omar Asker Hospital in Tripoli, said he traveled to the Philippines to ask Philippine officials to lift the ban saying they “badly need” medical personnel.

He said the hospital was forced to reduce their bed capacity despite the urgent need for services, due to lack of medical personnel.

Omar said they preferred to hire Filipino nurses and medical personnel because, in his 25 years experience as hospital administrator, he had not found the same level of competence and work ethic he had found in Filipinos. – inquirer.net