Filipino Missing In War-Torn Libya

by Patty Maluto

MANILA—A Filipino engineer has gone missing amid the ensuing violence in Libya, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.

In a text message, Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said that he received a report that a group of rebels “forcibly entered and ransacked a housing unit shared by Filipinos and other nationalities employed by a British-owned engineering company.”

A news report from TV 5 said that the engineer, whose identity the DFA refused to release, was a caretaker at the worksite of a British company that has been occupied by Libyan rebels.

Hernandez refused to release the identification of the Filipino engineer but assured that the Philippine embassy in Tripoli is exerting efforts to determine his whereabouts.

“On another incident, armed men posing as rebels took at gun point the UN WHO-owned [United Nations-World Health Organization] vehicle parked in front of the embassy and two vehicles of the POLO-OWWA [Philippine Overseas Labor Office-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration],” the Foreign Affairs spokesman said.

“The rebels demanded that another two vehicles of the embassy be handed to them but with the help of well-meaning neighbors, the embassy personnel were able to talk them out of it,” Hernandez added.

Alert level 4 is raised in entire Libya as a result of the continuing violence as demonstrators continue its run to topple the 42-year regime of Libyan President Moummar Gaddafi.

The alert level 4 has also activated the Philippine government’s repatriation program. There are about 1,600 overseas Filipino workers still left in Tripoli and surrounding areas.

On Monday, the DFA said that they are in a “wait and see” situation as it is possible that there may be no need for repatriation if situation in Libya’s capital stabilizes within 24 hours.

There is still no update from the Foreign Affairs department whether the current situation in the oil-rich country warrants the repatriation program.

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