Senator Cynthia Villar has urged the Department of Foreign Affairs and Department of Labor and Employment to step up the repatriation of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who remain in Syria following reports of an imminent US air strikes against the said country.
Villar noted that around 3,000 Filipinos, mostly women domestic workers, continue to stay in Syria with their mobility already compromised as a result of sniper fire, frequent bombings, and even the alleged use of chemical warfare.
“Let us all pray for the safety of our workers in Syria including the brave men and women of the Philippine Embassy who continue to stay on to ensure their repatriation,“ Villar said.
She added that the DFA can enlist the help of the International Red Cross and the International Organization on Migration (IOM) as well as seek the cooperation of the Syrian government to hasten the repatriation efforts.
She said that it is better for the Philippine government to be prepared for the worst case scenario rather than be caught flat-footed if and when the US decides to intervene militarily in Syria.
The lady legislator noted that most of these Filipino workers are undocumented, meaning they were deployed mostly by illegal recruiters and human trafﬁ cking syndicates, thus shifting the burden of repatriation on the Philippine government.
More than 90% of Filipinos in Syria are domestic workers, thus under the direct control of Syrian nationals.