Libyan Charge d’ Affaires Ahmed Eddeb on Friday said that Libya, now a ‘safer’ country, wants to hire more than 17,000 Filipino professionals to work in various industries such as medicine, oil field, engineering, and construction, among others.
In an interview, Eddeb said that Filipino workers are in demand among top companies in Libya, as he cited their work dedications, industriousness, skills, hospitality, and adaptability to their places of work.
“We are rebuilding and rehabilitating Libya that’s why we need more professional workers like nurses, construction workers, technicians, workers in the oil field. etc,” Eddeb said in a press briefing among selected journalists.
Eddeb made the call after a meeting with Foreign Affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano who he urged to reevaluate the security risk in Libya and downgrade the Crisis Alert Level for Libya from 2 (Restriction Phase) to 1 (Precautionary Phase).
So far, the DFA has yet to respond to the request, despite several letters addressed to the office of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs were sent to the DFA main headquarters.
Ali Omar Asker Hospital administrator Salam Ali Omar, who is now in the Philippines to meet with Foreign Health officials and the DFA, said they need 900 Filipino nurses in their hospital.
“There will be more demand on new hires of nurses in other hospitals,” he said.
“During the revolution in February, a lot of medical personnel left. We are in badly need of all these personnel especially from the Philippines,” he pleaded.
Before, he cited, their hospital have seven beds in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) but now they were forced to reduce it to four, due to lack of medical personnel who will take care of the sick or wounded from the conflict.
He also said that before they have 300 Filipino workers, but because of the forced repatriation imposed by the Philippine government, the figures went down to only 60 medical personnel.
“Despite having the necessary equipment, our medical personnel is not enough to operate it, and maintain it,” he added.
He said there are long queue of patients in the ICU and individuals waiting for operations.
The Libyan Central Bank and Libya’s Ministry of Health, he said, has promised a pay increase of up to 49 percent of salaries of OFWs who will work in Libya.
He said that workers in Libya will receive bigger paychecks than their counterparts elsewhere in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.
Omar disclosed that the Ali Omar Asker Hospital will offer a salary that ranges from 875 Libyan Dinar or P32,389 to 1,075 Libyan Dinar or P39,793.
On top of this, employees can also enjoy a one month leave with pay; health insurance; travel allowance; and a chance to bring their dependents to Libya.
“We are used to the market of the Philippines. We want the Filipinos’ professionality, discipline, and efficiency. Filipinos are not stranger to the jobs in Libya and they even speak Libyan language, not English” he said.
When asked why would they not hire other foreign workers, Eddeb said that Libyans are comfortable hiring Filipinos given their skills, hospitality, and being friendly.
“We hope we can succeed (this time). It is a two way process, you (Philippines) help us, and we will help you. A lot of people there who are in great need of the Filipino services,” the envoy added.
Medical workers and those employed in the gas and oil industries comprise the biggest bulk of OFWs in Libya and they are employed by multinational companies.
Meanwhile, the Lilac Center for Public Interest, a policy research and advocacy and public communication organization also joined the Libyan embassy in calling the DFA to conduct a review of the security situation in Libya and thereafter recommend to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to lift the ban on the deployment of Filipinos to Libya.
The Center also urged the Department of Labor and Employment to make good on its promise made in March this year to consider lifting the partial deployment ban and to immediately assign a labor attaché to Libya to look into employment opportunities and attend to the welfare of OFWs there.
“It has been more than a year since the last assessment and evaluation of the security situation in Libya. A lot of fast developments has happened already and we are sure the road towards stability in Libya has tremendously improved,” Nicon Fameronag, Lilac Center president, said in a statement.
Fameronag, formerly DOLE undersecretary for employment, cited the ceasefire between the UN-backed government in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, and the Libyan National Army, which controls parts of Eastern Libya, which was brokered by France’s President Emmanuel Macron in Paris in July, as well as the forthcoming elections in the first quarter of 2018, as clear signs that Libya is slowly but surely stabilizing.
Saying Libya is a loyal and supportive friend of the Philippines for the last 40 years, Fameronag said it is high time the government should assist Libya in its rebuilding effort by providing the country excess expert manpower and skills.
Libya has been a strong supporter of the Philippines in its efforts to forge peace in Mindanao, starting with the Tripoli Agreement in 1976.
All throughout Libya’s descent to civil strife from 2011 to 2014, Libya has never closed its embassy in the Philippines, even as the Philippines has downgraded its staff complement in Tripoli.
“Lifting the deployment ban to Libya will ease the very high unemployment of health workers in the Philippines, particularly nurses, who are much in demand. Libya only hires skilled and professional workers in the medical field, oil and gas, construction, and the education sectors. Imagine if we are able to deploy our unemployed licensed nurses, currently estimated at 300,000, we will ease the country’s unemployment problem,” the Lilac Center official said.
Fameronag’s call for the lifting of the partial deployment ban of OFWs to Libya comes in the wake of the series of visits by Libyan employers from the oil and gas, construction, academe, and health sector to dialogue with Philippine labor and foreign affairs officials and impress upon them that the security situation in Libya is now normal.
From a high of 26, 000 OFWs in 2011, the presence of Filipinos in Libya is now down to over 3,000, following the forced repatriation of 10,000 OFWs in 2011 and another 10,000 in 2014, Fameronag said.
Libya experienced extreme political and security upheaval in 2011 during the Arab Spring movement that toppled the 40-year dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi.
Security concerns were voiced out after factions of a militia group raised the threat of another civil war.