MANILA, OCTOBER 14, 2007 (STAR) By Pia Lee-Brago – The Filipino electrical supervisor who was released last Wednesday by his kidnappers in Nigeria, arrived yesterday in Manila and appealed to the government to lift the partial ban on the deployment of workers to Nigeria.
Albert Bacani Sr. made the appeal in the weekly dzMM radio program “Para Sa Iyo Bayan” of Vice President Noli de Castro after he arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
Bacani, chief electrician of an Italian petrochemical company in Nigeria, and another co-worker were abducted by armed bandits last Sept. 27 from SAIPEM’s petrochemical complex in Port Harcourt in River State, Nigeria.
Since January, at least nine cases of kidnapping of foreign workers in Nigeria involved overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), which prompted the Philippine government to impose a ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to oil-rich Nigeria.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said the partial ban on OFWs in Nigeria stays and that workers currently deployed there may avail themselves of the ongoing repatriation program. Only returning OFWs are allowed to go back to their same employers and jobsite in Nigeria.
Bacani said that despite his ordeal, he will return to Nigeria after two months of vacation here.
He said Nigeria is a good labor market for OFWs where foreign companies offer good compensation for workers.
He added that the eight armed men who kidnapped him are not part of an organized group that is responsible for the other abductions of foreign workers in Nigeria.
Bacani had undergone medical check-up and psychological evaluation after he and his Colombian co-worker were released by the abductors to the State Security Services of Nigeria on a bridge in Port Harcourt last Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo ordered the Philippine Embassy in Nigeria to facilitate the repatriation of Bacani to Manila and conveyed his release to his family.
The government expressed gratitude to the Nigerian government and SAIPEM for their efforts to secure the release of Bacani.
Sen. Manuel Roxas II warned jobseekers to avoid accepting employment offers to Nigeria.
He said the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration had suspended the processing of job contracts for Nigeria until the peace and order situation in the said African country improves.
The senator also underscored the need for workers’ vigilance against bogus online recruitment scams proliferating in the Internet. – With Aurea Calica
DESPITE KIDNAP ORDEAL, OFW ASKS GOVT TO LIFT DEPLOY BAN TO NIGERIA