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)