MANILA The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), has "strongly advised" Filipinos to postpone their travel to Tripoli and surrounding areas due to military movements towards the Libyan capital.
"Filipino workers from Tripoli and the surrounding areas who are currently on vacation in the Philippines and are scheduled to return to Libya in the coming days are strongly advised to postpone their travel until the tensions subside," the DFA said in a bulletin issued Friday night.
At the same time, it asked Filipinos in the Libyan capital "to exercise extreme caution" and specifically called on nationals living within a 100-km. radius of the Libyan capital to remain vigilant.
Tensions continued to flare up near Tripoli, triggered by a military movement from the east of the country. Recent report from the DFA said limited clashes south of Tripoli left one person dead.
The bulletin, a follow-up to an advisory issued earlier, echoed the request of the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli for members of the Filipino Community to stay indoors; avoid any unnecessary movement and public gatherings, and to follow the instructions of their employers until such time that the situation normalizes.
Although, the early Friday advisory has the elements of a Level III or voluntary repatriation situation, Charge d'affaires and Embassy head of mission Elmer Cato clarified that the crisis alert level in Libya remains at Level II or restriction phase.
"The situation in Tripoli itself has not reached the point where we would have to recommend raising the Alert Level from II to III. There is a possibility it would be raised at any time," he told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Saturday.
Unlike in previous advisories, Cato also noted that the latest one applies only to Filipinos working in Tripoli and in areas within a 100-km. radius of the capital.
Nevertheless, Filipinos who wish to be repatriated are advised to immediately contact the Embassy so arrangements could be made for their return to the country.
"The department will shoulder the repatriation of any Filipino who requests our assistance in going home," he said.
"We remain in touch with members of the Filipino Community who have been providing us with updates on the situation in their respective areas. So far, no Filipino has requested us for assistance," he added.
Filipinos in need of urgent assistance may contact the Philippine Embassy in Tripoli through the number +218-91-824-4208 or through the "Philippine Embassy in Libya Facebook Page. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency