MANILA — President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s special envoy to Kuwait on Tuesday (August 28) flew to Kuwait en route to Tripoli, Libya, to negotiate the release of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) abducted by armed men.
Secretary Abdullah “Dabs” Mamao, the presidential adviser on OFWs and Muslim Concerns and special envoy to Kuwait, took off from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for the trip to Kuwait.
From Kuwait City, he will pass through Tunisia and proceed to Tripoli for his humanitarian and mission of mercy.
Mamao traveled with Philippine Embassy to Kuwait Charge d’Affaires Norodin Lomondot.
Dr. Mamasapuno “Jun” Alonto Datu Ramos, Jr., director of the Bureau of External Relations of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF-BER), revealed this development in his post on his Facebook page.
Datu Ramos, the NCMF’s spokesperson and liaison to the media, said the two Filipino officials will “represent the Philippine Government in the retrieval operation of the three Filipino workers abducted in Libya.”
Mamao, he said, will then continue his journey to Libya.
The NCMF-BER head recalled that armed men attacked on July 6 a facility in Libya, the Al-Hassouna Waterworks Plant near Ishwirif, with the raiders taking nine employees of various nationalities, three of them Filipino technicians.
“After some of the victims were released later, only four remained with the terrorists, one Korean and the three Filipinos,” said Datu Ramos.
This has prompted the government to collaborate closely with the Iraqi and Libyan governments for the OFWs’ safe release.
He said Duterte gave Mamao the marching order anew to try and get the OFWs in Libya safely and without harm.
It’s Mamao’s third mission abroad after his successful negotiation in May this year to repair the strained relations between the government of Kuwait as a result of the President’s banning the deployment of household workers to the Arab monarchy.
In Kuwait City, a Philippine delegation led by the Moro official met early in May with the delegation of Kuwaiti Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Jarallah, thus paving the way for a normalization of bilateral relations.
His first foreign mission brought him to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in July 2016 for the welfare of around 11,000 stranded OFWs who were “TNT” (tago ng tago, keep on hiding), many of them encamped and sleeping outside the Philippine Consulate in Jeddah.
Mamao stayed in Jeddah for nearly a month as he successfully negotiated with the Saudi government for their repatriation.
Datu Ramos said the President gave the directive to Mamao on August 6 during a Cabinet meeting to go to Libya.
It was after the ceremonial signing in Malacanang of the Organic Law of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (OLBARMM), he recalled.
“Uncle Dabs (Mamao) was surprised with the President’s sudden directive. But it’s his duty and responsibility, and he will not say no to the President. Specially, that it is for the freedom of fellow Filipinos,” Datu Ramos said.
Meanwhile, the DFA issued a statement on August 28 asking “members of the Filipino community in Tripoli to take all precautionary measures” as a result of ongoing heavy fighting in the capital’s southern part.
The DFA said they should stay indoors and avoid unnecessary movements (to keep themselves safe from getting caught in a cross fire).
At present, the DFA said, the Filipino community in Libya runs to around 3,500 per the Philippine Embassy in Libya’s record. Of the total, some 1,850 are in Tripoli.
Meanwhile, It can be recalled that the leader of the Al-Fateh Revolution Colonel Muammar Gaddafi was captured and killed on October 20, 2011 during the Battle of Sirte (his hometown) by members of the National Transitional Forces.
After his death, Libya has until now plunged to the depths of violence, perhaps unseen in the North African country’s history as warlords and tribal leaders compete in deathly combat to control the oil rich Arab country.
Some say that many Libyans now miss Gaddafi more than they like what is happening to their country. (EKU)