Press Release
September 3, 2013

Villar wants Filipino workers safeguarded in Syria

Sen. Cynthia A. Villar today called on government to take the necessary steps to ensure that Filipinos are out of harm's way in the face of an impending United States-led military strike against Syria.

Per Department of Foreign Affairs records, an estimated 3,000 Filipino workers, mostly women domestic workers, are in Syria.

"Some of these OFWs are trapped in conflict zones while others choose to stay on despite the escalation of hostilities due to dim job prospects in our country," Villar said.

The Nacionalista Party senator added that around 20 embassy personnel had to stay on despite the war to look after the safety and welfare of OFWs.

Villar filed Proposed Resolution No. 230 directing the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development to conduct a joint inquiry on the impending military strike against Syria on the plight of Filipino workers and neighboring countries, as well as on Philippine foreign policy and the national economy.

US President Barrack Obama has recently declared his intention to carry out short-term limited military air strikes against Syria and to seek congressional approval to do so as America's principled stand against the use of chemical weapons.

Villar said the government needs to prepare contingency plans not only for OFWs and embassy personnel in Syria, but also for thousands of OFWs in Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, given the high probability of these workers being adversely affected in case war spread beyond Syrian borders.

"A Senate inquiry is needed so we can look into the implications of such military action on our economy that relies heavily on oil and workers' remittances from the Middle East," Villar said.

"The inquiry can also help sharpen Philippine foreign policy in the face of global concerns raised by the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians," she added.

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