MANILA // Most of the 10,000 Filipinos working in Syria have refused to leave despite mounting violence, the Philippine foreign minister said.
Albert del Rosario tried to convince more Filipinos to leave during a recent visit, but "I did not see too many people who were enthusiastic about being repatriated".
"I did not talk to anyone who wanted to be repatriated.
"The reason being there are no economic opportunities in the Philippines."
Mr del Rosario said Filipinos were even entering Syria illegally to find work although he did not provide a figure.
The minister said many Filipinos - most working as domestic helpers - did not think they were in danger.
"They feel that if they have a good employer, he will protect them. They don't particularly feel threatened."
However some Filipinos have accepted a government offer to fly them home with about 1,000 likely to return over the next several weeks, Mr del Rosario said.
About 10 per cent of the Philippines' 94 million population work abroad.