In a press briefing held on Monday, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said “logistical reasons” caused the delay in the arrival of the chartered ship carrying more than 1,000 stranded Filipinos out of Libya.
“Because the ship will be coming from Italy to Malta then Libya, they have been at sea for several days. It’s a matter of refueling the vessel while at sea,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said.
Jose dismissed speculations that the vessel could not dock at the port in Benghazi due to security threats.
“According to our embassy in Tripoli, they are being assisted by the (Libyan) Red Crescent in Benghazi and the Red Crescent is coordinating with the militias. They assured the embassy that they can use the Benghazi port,” Jose said.
The chartered vessel is expected to arrive in Benghazi on Aug. 13 to pick up 490 Filipinos who registered for evacuation by sea. From Benghazi, the chartered vessel will sail to Misrata to pick up another batch of 610 Filipino evacuees on Aug. 14.
The ship is expected to arrive in Malta on Aug. 15.
The government will be spending $1.8 million to ferry the Filipinos from the port cities of Libya to Malta.
From Malta, Philippine Airlines chartered planes will pick up the evacuees straight from the seaport of Valletta and fly them directly to Manila.
Besides the 1,100 Filipinos who have registered for evacuation by sea, 588 Filipinos in Tripoli are waiting for their turn to exit Libya via land travel to the border in Tunisia, Jose said.
They will cross the border in groups, he said.
He also said that 68 Filipinos will arrive in two batches Monday afternoon and on Tuesday.
This will bring the total number of Filipino workers repatriated from Libya to 1,625 since mass evacuation was enforced in June due to growing tension in North African state.