The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is sending a team from Manila to replace some embassy staff in Syria involved in the alleged mistreatment and abuse of Filipino trafficked victims who are taking shelter at the chancery.

Amid probe on abuses: Locsin orders 5-man team to replace staff at PH embassy in Syria

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The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is sending a team from Manila to replace some embassy staff in Syria involved in the alleged mistreatment and abuse of Filipino trafficked victims who are taking shelter at the chancery.

The agency on Wednesday said Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. has sent the new team “to replace personnel under administrative investigations,” who would also “back up Filipino trafficking victims in Syria following the deployment of a woman human rights lawyer to head the Philippine embassy in Syria”.

A Washington Post article earlier recounted the ordeal of Filipino trafficking victims in Syria, who, after fleeing their employers suffered from poor living conditions and alleged ill-treatment in the hands of some Embassy staff.

The new five-person team, “all veterans of assistance-to-nationals work,” are scheduled for deployment “as soon as administrative and pre-flight medical requirements are done”.

The same number of old embassy personnel are expected to return, but the DFA said not all five are under investigation.

In a previous statement, the Philippine Embassy in Syria said the DFA has been providing legal assistance to the distressed Filipinos sheltered at the post, “all of whom are trafficking victims”.

Before the Washington Post story, the Embassy said it has repatriated three Filipinos in Dec. 2020, with 12 more scheduled to return to Manila this month.

Locsin assured that the DFA would send home all distressed Filipinos awaiting repatriation.

“All. Asap. No excuses. I reiterate DFA-DOLE warning. Undocumented workers are in particularly perilous situations. They are trafficked from Mindanao touristically to neighboring visa-free Asean countries therefrom to places under deployment ban and thereby to living hell,” he said in a tweet Wednesday. (PNA)

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For buses’ benefit: 300K liters of fuel smuggled weekly from Bataan to NCR

By Nancy Carvajal

At least 300,000 liters of fuel is smuggled weekly from a shipyard in Mariveles, Bataan to garages of various bus companies in Metro Manila and nearby provinces, persons involved in transporting the product told the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

NBI Special Unit Action agent Melvin Escurel said individuals they have talked to claimed to be clueless about the smuggling of fuel.

“A witness said they just received instructions from ‘Jerome’ and ‘Eric’ to proceed to the Seafront Shipyard and wait for the barge that would fill up their tanker,’’ Escurel said.

Using a long hose, diesel is loaded into the tankers inside the shipyard from a barge anchored about 500 meters away from the dock.

The tankers are filled with fuel at least three times a week. They travel to the shipyard from a garage in Pasay City.

Escurel said four to five tankers deliver the fuel to the garages of various bus lines. One tanker, meanwhile, heads to Fairview, Quezon City to fill up a supposedly abandoned tanker.

Based on witnesses’ testimonies, Escurel said the fuel smuggling scheme involving the Bataan shipyard appears to be well organized.

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