MANILA — Labor and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldoz Wednesday urged the remaining overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Yemen—numbering to about 50 to 100—to heed the government’s plea for them to leave Yemen and come home to the Philippines.
“I beg you to take into consideration your safety, for the sake of your loved ones, your families, in the Philippines and head for the Jizan-Saudi border, the only safe exit route out of Yemen, where the Philippine Rapid Reaction Team (RRT) is waiting to repatriate you home,” Baldoz said after she received a report that the RRT has been advised by Ambassador Ricardo Endaya to remain at the border to attend to the needs of OFWs evacuating from Yemen.
From the border, the RRT will bring evacuating OFWs to Jeddah enroute to the Philippines.
Baldoz said RRT members, Welfare Officer Mario Antonio and Labor Attache Adam Musa, have reported that the situation in Yemen, particularly in Sanaa, the Yemeni capital, is deteriorating by the day.
“Brownouts are experienced throughout the city every day for several hours. Water is also scarce,” the RRT report said.
Earlier, the RRT team was inside Yemen and were able to convince 20 more OFWs to evacuate, and expressed puzzlement that despite repeatedly pleas, the remaining OFWs cannot firmly decide whether to go home or not.
“Rather they asked for more time and give more alibis for not leaving Yemen. Some of them turned off their mobile phones whenever we call them,” Labor Attaché Musa reported.
Earlier, according to Musa, the Department of Foreign Affairs has given the RRT until April 30 to leave Yemen because of the deteriorating security situation, but the team requested for a one-week extension and was granted till May 8 to stay inside the country.
Baldoz said the RRT has been stationed in Yemen to assist OFWs in the evacuation and it has tried its best to convince everyone to come home, but according to Labor Attache Musa, some OFWs still would like to stay.
“Some said they have been assured by their employers of protection. Others said they will stay with their families. The usual reason is that they did not like to lose their jobs even if we assured them the government will allow them to return once the situation normalizes,” the RRT report said.
Baldoz said she had directed the POLO in Jeddah and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to continue to monitor the situation and coordinate with the Philippine Embassy all its action relative to the provision of assistance the remaining OFWs in Yemen may need.