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Apr 23 19, 6:53 pm

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PH flag draped on embassy’s rooftop in Tripoli

by | News

Apr. 23, 19 | 6:53 pm

A PHILIPPINE flag was draped on top of the Philippine Embassy’s rooftop in Tripoli, to signal the faction trying to wrestle control of Libya’s capital not to hit them.

In his tweet, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Boy Locsin Jr. said the Philippine flag is “the flag of everyone’s friend and no one’s enemy in Libya.”

“So no excuse for a misdirected drone or artillery strike. Please protect our people,” Locsin wrote.

The photo also shows a smaller flag hoisted beside the draped flag.

Libya’s eastern-based military led by its strongman Khalifa Haftar started advancing to Tripoli two weeks ago. Recently, troop advancement has been coupled with intensified air strikes.

Locsin’s tweet shows a slight turnaround from its foreign policy on Libya.

Manila has recognized the government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, getting accreditation from its diplomatic officials before Sarraj’s administration. The United Nations is also recognizing Sarraj’s government.

However, two days ago, US President Donald Trump announced Washington D.C.’s support for Gen. Haftar.

The DFA is still enforcing an Alert 3 contingency measure in Libya, asking 1,000 Filipinos in Tripoli and other districts 100 kilometers around the capital to “volunteer” for repatriation. So far, only 11 have already been repatriated — the latest was the batch of two nurses and their husbands.

Elmer Cato, charge d’affaires in Tripoli, said the nurses crossed the Libya-Tunisian land border together with DFA Director Iric Arribas.

There are 40 other Filipinos who have expressed their intention to be repatriated, 15 of them are workers at a carpet factory. “According to them, the cost of their repatriation will be shouldered by their employer but they are requesting the embassy to shoulder the cost of their onward travel by air to their respective provinces.”

Another nurse from Gharyan where there is intensive fighting also came to the embassy and said he wants to go home, too.

Still, the embassy is struggling to convince the rest of the more than 900 Filipinos in Libya to come home.

Cato said he and his staff visited the Masarra Clinic in Tripoli and met 50 FIlipinos mostly nurses.

“The nurses said they would not go home despite the looming danger just a few kilometers away because, according to them, they are sure their employer will take care of them.”

Cato said Filipino nurses feel that staying in Libya is a way of giving back to the kindness that their Libyan employers have extended to them all these years.

“Our Libyan employer treats us like we are part of his family. Staying here is one way for us to thank him for his kindness,” Cato quoted a senior nurse as saying.

“As she was telling us this,” Cato added, “we could hear the faint sound of thunder in the background. But it was not thunder. It was the sound of the artillery exchanges from the fierce battle that was raging just a few kilometers from where we were.”

Relatedly, there are 100 Filipino workers from Sirte Oil Company who were here in the Philippines when the DFA banned deployment of workers to the north African state.

A certain Elmer Perez tweeted to DFA and Locsin that they would like make an appeal to the DFA Secretary to allow them to go back to Libya and be exempted from the ban.

“Sir kami ay 100+ workers of Sirte Oil Company Marsa El Brega 800 km far from Tripoli. Na-istranded na kami since di pinirmahan ang emmployment contract namin. Humihingi kami ng appointment sa inyo para personal na makipag-usap sa inyo at ipresent ang legal document namin,” his Tweet reads.

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