CBCP body echoes call for OFWs’ homecoming from countries of conflict

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BALANGA City, Bataan, Feb. 21, 2015—The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)’s Episcopal Commission on Migrant and Itinerant People (ECMIP) echoes the public appeal for the repatriation of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) remaining in Libya, Syria, Yemen, and other foreign countries with reported cases of persecutions against Christians.

Fr. Amado Baranquel celebrates a Mass with OFWs and some kids in a children’s hospital in Benghazi, Libya. (Photo: Melly Saban)

According to CBCP-ECMIP chair, Bishop Ruperto C. Santos of the Diocese of Balanga, his office has teamed up with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in an effort to persuade OFWs in the said countries to think of their safety first before the desire to earn money, and to take advantage of the government’s offer of repatriation.

Mixed reception

“In conflict-ridden country like Libya, we have more or less 4,000 countrymen working in oil fields, hospitals, and medical facilities to whom this offer of repatriation is being extended. Unfortunately, only a few wanted to take the flight home,” he said.

In his interview over Church-run Radyo Veritas, the prelate added, however, that in Syria, officials of the Philippine Embassy had already talked between 5,000-6,000 Filipino migrant workers into responding positively to the repatriation option, while in Yemen, roughly 1,000 Filipinos are awaiting the government’s crisis management team.

Santos expresses hope that OFWs will be endowed with the wisdom to think of their lives and well-being ahead of the opportunity to earn money.

No place like home

Furthermore, the Balanga bishop reaffirmed the position of the CBCP-ECMIP stressing Filipinos should remain in the Philippines to work, instead of opting to seek greener pastures elsewhere at the expense of their families.

“As we celebrate the 29th National Migrants’ Sunday, we would like highlight the beauty of family members staying together, united in their love with one another,” he said.

Modern-day heroes

While he admits there is nothing the Church can do at the moment to stop Filipinos from leaving their loved ones and the country for a supposedly higher-paying overseas employment, Santos lauds OFWs for their selflessness and the sacrifices they make to give the best life possible for their families, as well as the dollar remittances they send back home which keep the Philippine economy afloat. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)

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