By Charmaine A. Tadalan, Reporter

THE Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised the alert level in Tripoli, Libya, and surrounding areas to 4, from level 3, due to the continuing conflict.

“Yesterday [I] informed [the] President that I raised the Alert level to 4 in Tripoli + 100 kms around,” Secretary of Foreign Affairs (SFA) Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. said in a social media post, Wednesday.

“AL 4 is mandatory evacuation but we cannot compel and rightly so. What is mandatory is that DFA stays in Tripoli until last OFW (overseas Filipino worker) goes — & then it stays.”

The DFA noted the SFA elevated the alert level upon the recommendation of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, which warned that the situation in the area is threatening the safety and security of over 1,000 Filipinos there.

“Charge d’Affaires Elmer G. Cato said the fighting in the outskirts of Tripoli will also soon make it difficult for the Embassy to respond to urgent requests for assistance from distressed nationals,” DFA Assistant Secretary Emmanuel R. Fernandez told reporters over phone message, Wednesday.

“He said that with the declaration of Alert Level IV, the Embassy will redouble its efforts in persuading Filipinos to go home.”

The Tripoli fighting, which started on April 4, has resulted in the shelling of several hospitals and residential areas that wounded at least two Filipinos.

The DFA reiterated its appeal to Filipinos in Tripoli to consider the repatriation offer and also requested their families in the Philippines to convince them. As of April 28, Mr. Cato reported that the Embassy has helped repatriate a total of 32 Filipinos.

For his part, Senator Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, chair of the committee on labor, employment and human resources development, called on concerned government agencies to assist repatriation and relocation of OFWs in the area.

“We expect our government agencies, particularly OUMWA (Office of the Undersecretary Migrant Workers Affairs), POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration), OWWA (Overseas Workers Welfare Administration), and DoLE (Department of Labor and Employment) to implement the repatriation plan and make relocation arrangements for our OFWs in Libya,” Mr. Villanueva told reporters over phone message, Wednesday.

“DoLE considering they have to profile of our OFWs in Libya likewise must seek out alternative employment to OFWs either in an identified 3rd country or here in the Philippines.”