Many Filipinos Won’t Leave Libya for Their Jobs

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MANILA, Philippines—Thousands of Filipinos have ignored the government’s last call to return home, preferring to stay in Libya rather than face a bleak future in the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario reported Wednesday.

Del Rosario made a second trip in less than a month to the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where he stayed for several hours, meeting with Filipinos at the Philippine Embassy and telling them that the Aquino administration’s voluntary repatriation program from Libya was ending the next day, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

Del Rosario learned from leaders of the Filipino community that “many preferred putting their lives at risk over the prospects of non-employment and economic hardship” in the Philippines, said Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesperson Eduardo Malaya.

“The Filipino workers are actually more concerned about the difficulty in remitting money to their families in the Philippines than the air strikes in Libya. They asked the government how the government could help them in sending their remittances,” the Philippine Embassy said.

President Benigno Aquino III, speaking to reporters during a visit to Cagayan de Oro City Wednesday said it was sad that Filipinos “see hope in a place where there is conflict rather than in our country which is peaceful.” He said he could not blame them if their priority was to sustain the needs of their families.

Only 31 Filipino workers joined Del Rosario for the trip back to the Tunisian border town of Djerba, according to Malaya, adding that another 30 Filipinos, including 19 students, were expected to arrive in Djerba Wednesday. In February, 400 Filipinos left on a convoy of 40 cars to the Tunisian border.

More than 9,000 Filipinos have already fled Libya after a rebellion calling for an end to the four-decade rule of Moammar Gadhafi broke out in mid-February.