RP may lift ban on OFWs in Iraq

February 5, 2009


Agence France-Presse

Posted date: February 05, 2009

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine government is to send a delegation to Iraq next week to evaluate whether to lift a ban on Filipinos working there, a labor department official said Thursday.

The mission will include members of the labor and foreign affairs departments, said Jennifer Manalili, administrator of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA).

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo banned the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq in 2004 after a Filipino truck driver was kidnapped and threatened with beheading.

The driver was later released unharmed after Arroyo withdrew the country’s small contingent of troops and police.

Despite the ban an estimated 10,000 Filipinos work in Iraq.

An official Iraqi delegation was in Manila recently and called on the government to lift its ban, saying the country needed foreign workers to help it rebuild.



RP will not lift ban on workers in Iraq

November 20, 2008

iraq_rel_2004We in Nigeria are seriously following this story. It is good that the Iraqi government is the one requesting the Philippine government to consider lifting of travel and work ban. Truly, how many countries declared a travel and work ban to Iraq?

Not even the US, which has the highest casualty in Iraq, declared ban on Iraq. They issue travel advisories.

Maybe the Philippine government has the best ‘risk-assessment’ team in the world, beating the likes of US and UK, so much so that only RP declares Nigeria a very high-risk country, on the same level as Iraq.

If the Philippine government blinked for awhile about the idea of lifting the travel and work ban to Iraq, we wonder what would it take for them to remove the same ban to Nigeria…

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata..


11/15/2008 | 02:57 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines has no immediate plan to lift a ban on its citizens working in Iraq, the labor secretary said Saturday after a plea from an Iraqi diplomat for more foreign laborers to help with the war-torn country’s reconstruction.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said there would be no deployment of Filipino workers pending an assessment of the security situation in Iraq.

Iraqi officials asked the Philippines to lift the ban several weeks ago because of an expected construction boom, Roque said.

“I told them, ‘Wait a minute. We have to see if you can guarantee the security of our workers, before we consider allowing our workers to work in Iraq,'” he said in a radio broadcast.

The Philippines’ economy is largely dependent on its overseas workers. Some 8.7 million of the Philippines’ 90 million people work abroad and last year they sent home $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of gross domestic product.

Iraq’s charge d’affaires Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh said Friday that the Middle Eastern country needs construction and oil workers, engineers, nurses, teachers and technicians.

The Philippines banned its citizens from working in Iraq in July 2004 after insurgents abducted and threatened to behead Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz. He was released after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Roque said about 10,000 Filipinos work in two U.S. military camps without permission from the Philippine government. Al-Hakimh said the number of Filipino workers has risen to 15,000 despite the ban. – AP



‘Iraq ban an issue of security, not job demand’
11/15/2008 | 01:39 PM
MANILA, Philippines – Following Iraq’s declaration that the war-torn country is currently in need of millions of foreign workers, Labor Secretary Marianito Roque on Saturday said that the issue at hand is about security, not the lack of job opportunities.

Adel Mawlood Hamoudi al-Hakimh, Iraqi’s charge d’affaires on Friday said Iraq needs about 10 million foreign workers for the reconstruction of his country and urged the Philippines to lift a ban that prevents Filipino laborers from going there.

In an interview on Vice President Noli de Castro’s radio program on Saturday, Roque noted that while the Philippines needs plenty of job opportunities for its workers, it should not be at the expense of safety and security.

“’Yung paglilift ng ban ay subject for security assessment ng ating Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) (The lifting of the ban is subject for security assessment by the DFA),” Roque said.

He said that the decision depended very much on DFA’a assessment, which is supposed to be released in December.

“Kung sa tingin nila ay wala nang peligro sa ating mga kababayan ay tsaka lang tayo maglilift ng deployment ban d’yan sa Iraq (If they think that the impending danger for our people is gone, that’s the only time when we will lift the deployment ban on Iraq),” Roque said.

“’Yung welfare at security ng mga kababayan natin ang importante above all (The welfare and security of our people is the most important above all),” he said.

He said that they talked with Iraqi officials during the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) held in Manila last month.

Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Jennifer Manalili has also expressed apprehension, saying that when they met with the Iraqi representatives and talked about the current situation in the oil-rich state, the reply was not encouraging.

“I asked them, ‘Can we guarantee the safety of the workers there?’” Manalili recalled telling the Iraqi delegate. “When they said ‘Not everywhere in Iraq,’ then the ban stayed.”

Roque apparently had asked them the same question, saying that in the end, the Philippine government would still be the one to bear the consequences of lifting the ban.

“’Yung mga kompanya naman kapag may nangyari, bumubitiw agad sila (Those companies, when something happens, they immediately bail out),” he said.
Roque also said that the actions of United States President-elect Barack Obama should be considered. The top White House official had promised to pull out the American troops from Iraq within 16 months after taking his seat.

“’Yan ang malaking factor diyan, kung ano ang kanyang magiging polisiya niya tungkol sa Iraq (That’s a big factor, whatever his policies are going to be regarding Iraq),” he said.

Moreover, Roque said that DOLE is well aware that there are still many undocumented Filipino workers in Iraq.

He said that there are currently 10,000 Filipino workers working in Iraq unregistered.

“Wala nang legal (Filipino workers) ‘dun, lahat ‘yun ay matatawag nating unregistered (There are no more legal Filipino workers there, you can call all of them unregistered),” he said.

He also said they have alerted Kuwait and Saudi Arabia since they are the most likely areas by which undocumented workers might pass through in order to reach Iraq. Some of them have also entered the country via neighboring countries Jordan and Syria with coalition forces or US companies.

The Philippines has officially banned its citizens from working in Iraq since July 2004 after insurgents abducted Filipino truck driver Angelo dela Cruz.

Dela Cruz was threatened with beheading but his captors released him after President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo agreed to withdraw the Philippines’ small military contingent in Iraq — a decision strongly criticized by Washington and other coalition allies.

Some 8.7 million Filipinos out of the country’s 90 million people work overseas. Last year Filipinos working abroad sent home a total of $14.45 billion — about 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. – GMANews.TV


DOLE still waiting for DFA assessment on Iraq ban

October 14, 2008
Philippine Barangay Society-Nigeria (PBSN)

Philippine Barangay Society-Nigeria (PBSN)

To all Filipinos in Nigeria. This news calls for another aggressive information campaign to our government officials to remove the travel and work ban in Nigeria. While we have nothing against the lifting of ban to Iraq, we find it unfair that the DFA remains deaf and dumb to our pleas to remove the ban.

Is Iraw far safer than Nigeria these days? What would the DFA do when another Filipino is killed or kidnapped in Iraq? Ban again? Like what they did to Nigeria?

When foreign countries issues travel warning against the Philippines on account of kidnapping or war in the South, the government gets a convulsions and insists the trouble is ‘only’ in the South.

What about Nigeria? Just because of a restive state in Nigeria, the Philippines is fit to consider entire Nigeria as unsafe? That is why it is not removing the ban?

This is really madness.

Let us write our Congressmen and OFW-friendly senators to help us get this ban lifted soonest.

Di na tayo makaka asa kay Ka Noli, masyadong busy para sa 2010.

DOLE still waiting for DFA assessment on Iraq ban
10/10/2008 | 05:26 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) on Friday said it was still waiting for the assessment of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on whether the deployment ban on Iraq can be lifted or not.

Labor Secretary Marianito Roque said reports from the Middle East Preparedness Team indicated that the incidence of violence in Iraq has already dwindled but it was relying on the DFA’s recommendation.

“The DOLE position is subject to the security assessment by the DFA on the peace and order condition in Iraq,” Roque told GMANews.TV through a text message.

“While there maybe emerging employment opportunities there, the welfare of our nationals remains primal,” he said.

Recruitment agencies earlier called for a relaxation of the deployment ban to legally open up the job market in the war-torn country once more.

The Philippine government stopped sending workers to Iraq after Filipino accountant Robert Tarongoy was abducted in 2004.

The government said the abduction confirmed its apprehension of sending workers to the conflict-stricken country since the hostage-taking of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz that same year.

Word has it that the government spent millions of dollars for the freedom of the two hostages.

Roque admitted that despite the deployment ban, Filipino workers continued to enter Iraq illegally to take advantage of the high pay offered by mostly American companies with contracts in the Mideastern country.

He said reports reaching his office say the number of OFWs who are currently in Iraq has jumped to 15,000.

Labor officials have also maintained the deployment bans on Lebanon and Jordan despite similar calls for these to be lifted.

The Lebanon ban was kept due to ongoing peace and order problems while that on Jordan was kept because employers refused to comply with new conditions set for hiring OFWs.

Administrator Jennifer Manalili of the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) has said the DFA recommended that these bans be maintained due to the “still volatile situation” in the two countries. – GMANews.TV