First batch of OFWs from Lebanon expected tomorrow, 4 pm, in Manila
Here’s the latest from the DFA:
20 July 2006 â€“ Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Esteban B. Conejos, Jr. announced that the first batch of 192 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) from Beirut, Lebanon has begun the coordinated journey bound for Damascus, Syria for onward direct flight to Manila where the OFWs are expected at around 4:00 p.m., Friday, 21 July 2006.
The arrival of the first batch of OFWs followed the coordination under Oplan â€“ Sagip OFW sa Lebanon of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Labor and Employment. At the DFA, Undersecretary Conejos coordinated with Undersecretary for Special Concerns Rafael Seguis, who is now in Damascus; Ambassador Roy Cimatu, Head of the Presidential Middle East Preparedness Team, who is now making his way towards Beirut; Mr. Walter S. Salmingo, ChargÃ© dâ€™ Affaires (CDA), a.i. of the Philippine Embassy in Beirut; and Philippine Ambassador to Israel Antonio C. Modena.
Ambassador Modena informed Undersecretary Conejos that safe passage was given by the Israeli authorities for the convoy to proceed to Damascus.
For his part, Undersecretary Seguis informed Undersecretary Conejos that he and Philippine Honorary Consul to Syria Fadi Debahy will be at the immigration border to coordinate with Syrian immigration authorities the quick clearance for the OFWs to enter the country and continue the convoy up to the Damascus International Airport.
Undersecretary Conejos further stated that an Emirates Airline Lockheed II passenger plane will arrive at the Damascus International Airport at around 10:00 p.m., Thursday, Syria time (2:00 a.m., Friday, Manila time) to immediately board the OFWs and fly them directly to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport where they are expected to arrive at around 4:00 p.m., Friday, 21 July 2006, Manila time.
The Undersecretary has also coordinated with the Department of Labor and Employment and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration on the arrangements to welcome the OFWs and for the livelihood support.
Undersecretary Conejos appealed to Filipinos â€œto now join us in prayer for the safe travel of the OFWs back to the home country and for the success of security measures as well as coordination efforts.â€ ###
Blogger’s Note: This route is fraught with danger, like all roads and seaports leading out of Lebanon. The passage of our workers by land must be coordinated with precision by our embassies in Lebanon and Israel with their host governments. Let’s pray for our OFWs, those who have embarked on this risky journey and the more than thirty thousand who remain in the households of their employers or in their own homes. Let’s also pray for our embassy personnel and the people on the ground who are working hard to help our workers. Sans fanfare, the DFA and DOLE must also be given full budgetary support to be able to succeed in their joint mission to secure our workers. And for those media-hogging politicians who have really nothing constructive to say about government plans and arrangements for the Lebanon crisis, please don’t speak. We all know that the situation is bad enough as it is.