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Not farfetched that more OFWs will be killed in high-risk Syria –OFW group

On March 14, 2012

It is not remote that more overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in strife-torn Syria will be killed, if not hurt, amid news of an OFW ‘killed in an ambush’ that was confirmed today by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila, according to a Filipino migrants rights group Migrante-Middle East (M-ME)

Earlier today, DFA spokesperson Raul Hernandez was quoted as saying during a radio interview that an OFW only identified as Montesor was killed last February 24 allegedly in an ambush by armed gangs in Homs.

Reacting to this, M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona said the latest confirmed report about an OFW killed in Syria brings to casualties involving OFWs to three (3).

“The first reported incident of an OFW killed in Syria was last January 5, 2012. The victim, OFW Violeta Cortez, on her mid-40’s from San Pablo, Laguna reportedly found dead at an undisclosed street in Damascus,” Monterona noted.

On a statement issued on January 11, M-ME said “it is not ruling out that OFW Cortez was possibly hit by a stray bullet while cruising her way out of Homs, where heavy fighting still ensued, going to Damascus to seek the Philippine embassy’s assistance.”

The other report (an OFW killed) M-ME got from the OFWs in Syria was sometime in November of last year, also an alleged stray-bullet incident that killed an unidentified OFW in Homs, Syria.

“It is sad to note again that our OFWs who were forced to accept jobs, even those deployed illegally in Syria, serve as collateral damage with PH govt. wait-and-see stance in its evacuation and repatriation efforts that should have been done early last year when the conflict first erupted in Syria and its inaction to join the international community to stop the war in Syria,” Monterona opined.

According to DFA reports, only about more than a thousand, out of 17,000 OFWs in Syria, were repatriated since the PH govt. imposed a mandatory repatriation of OFWs last quarter of last year (2011).

“More OFW deaths, though we pray that no other OFW would be hurt or killed in Syria, is the price of a ‘wait-and-see evacuation and repatriation stance’ by the PH govt., the DFA and other concerned govt. agencies. Evacuation and repatriation efforts must be pro-active, this is what the MENA crisis taught us so far,” Monterona concluded. # # #

Written by:

John Leonard Monterona

Migrante Middle East regional coordinator