Philippines starts evacuating Filipinos from Libya

22:04, February 24, 2011      

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The Philippine government started moving out Filipinos in conflict-torn Libya as violent uprising continue unabated, Foreign Affairs spokesman Eduardo Malaya said Thursday.

At least 25 Filipinos from Benghazi have crossed the Libya- Egypt border and many more are expected to follow, he said.

"A reception team from the Philippine Embassy in Cairo is at the border to facilitate their entry," Malaya said, adding that a similar team is on standby at the Libya-Tunisia border to await the arrival of Filipinos coming from the capital Tripoli.

He also said that the Department of Foreign Affairs has suspended the charging of consular fees in the wake of the crisis.

Also on Thursday, Philippine President Benigno Aquino said that 13,000 Filipinos may be evacuated from Libya, and promised that the government is prepared to move out all of its citizens from that country if the situation becomes worse.

Asked how many Filipinos the government is prepared to move out from Libya, the President said in a news briefing, "About 13,000 of the 26,000 (Filipinos in Libya), if necessary."

The president said that the government will lease planes from Philippines Airlines and Qatar Airways costing 13 million pesos ( 298,100 U.S. dollars) per flight with a capacity of 200 to 300, to be drawn from a standby fund that can be augmented by more funds " if there is a need to physically evacuate all of our citizens."

He said that 11 additional personnel from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Labor and Employment ( DOLE) have been sent to augment the embassy staff in Libya.

Asked whether the Philippines will consider suspending ties with Libya in protest of the violent crackdown on those opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, the President said that it may not be a prudent move to take, as Filipinos may pay the price for it."

Source: Xinhua
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