Pinoys in Debt-Ridden Greece Told to Prepare ‘For Any Eventuality’

Philippine embassy officials in Greece have met with Filipino community leaders there and advised them “to be prepared for any eventuality” amid the debt crisis, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Monday, as it continued to monitor the situation there.

“The DFA as well as the embassy in Athens are continuously monitoring the situation,” DFA spokesman Charles Jose said in a media briefing.

Jose said the DFA is studying the possible implication of the Greek referendum on more than 60,000 Filipino workers in the debt-ridden state. “We still have to see the full extent of the implication of the result of the referendum,” he said.

There is an estimated 61,500 Filipino workers in Greece. Of this, 11,500, mostly domestic helpers, are land-based, while 60,000 are seafarers.

Majority of Greeks voted against an international bailout offer on Sunday, in a move opposition members warned could result in Greece being booted out of the Eurozone.

Jose said the Philippine government could not say at the moment if the result of the elections would threaten peace and security in the country, but Filipinos there have already been warned to be cautious.

Meanwhile, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) is hopeful that the thousands of Filipino sailors aboard the Greek merchant fleet will be fine regardless of the debt crisis.

“We are counting on Greek trading ships, which are earning quite a lot in US dollars, to stay afloat. They are fairly insulated from the Greek government’s extreme financial distress,” said TUCP president Ernesto Herrera.

Herrera, a former senator and a key founder of the Philippine Seafarers’ Union, said the Greek merchant fleet is a vital cog of global trade, as Greek companies run 16 percent of the world’s ocean-going trading vessels.

Greece is the Philippines’ fifth-largest source of dollar remittances from sailors, after the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan, according to Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development. —with Michaela del Callar/KBK, GMA News


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