Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More than 2,000 Filipino workers sneak into Iraq despite ban

Philstar - More than 2,000 Filipino workers have sneaked into Iraq to work for US military camps despite a government ban imposed last year, recruitment agencies said Tuesday.

The workers leave the country with forged travel papers and use Dubai as a jump-off point into Iraq, according to formal complaints presented by recruitment agencies to a government task force enforcing the travel ban.

On average 100 Filipinos have been leaving for Iraq every month to work in some 60 US military-run camps in Iraq, they said.

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In Olongapo City, more than 300 workers in security services were recruited for Iraq and Afganistan. As of this writing, a secret training camp in Subic Bay is conducting refresher courses in anti-terrorism, re-tooling to include mine detection and safety and orientation on culture of their future host country by experts in Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) who were originally trained by American and Israeli Counter-Terror operatives in 1996 to secure the 18 head of states who were in Subic during the APEC Summit. Observers commented that "mercenaries" or "mercs" is the more appropriate term for these adventurers and not OFW. But with P100, 000.00 to P150, 000.00 monthly take home pay coupled with P2, 000,000.00 insurance; it’s not at all surprising that applicants come in hundreds. In fact, Subic Bay is expecting a "security drain" (patterned from the famous "brain drain") if this trend continues; even close-in security of some national and local politicians opted to hop in the bandwagon.

These "mercs" will be tasked to secure western expats in Iraq and Afghanistan, escort civilian convoys or construction/maintenance/supplies of different pro-democracy projects, and mine clearing operations.

Reports which were relayed by the first batch of Filipino "mercs" who are now operating in the Middle East for more than six months indicate that death is expected. Filipinos die (both pro and anti; since some recruited pinoy workers they said end up working with the insurgents, revels or whatever you want to call them ) in the Middle East but you will not see it in the news and our government most of the time does not even know about it.

This writer thought of bringing this issue up with the national leadership but after a hearth-to-hearth meeting with the "boys", decided to hold-out and respect their decision, which is much like most OFWs, wanting a better future for their family (for which they claim has become very elusive in our own country), and yes they are willing to take the risk.

Being part of the family of original Subic Volunteers, I consider these courageous brothers as "heroes", I wish them safe journey . . . GODSPEED!

2 Comments:

  • Ban on travel to Iraq stays

    http://news.inq7.net/breaking/index.php?index=1&story_id=40461

    The official said as of their last count, some 4,000 documented OFWs were deployed in Iraq. He added that the department did not know how many Filipinos in Iraq were undocumented because "we don't know where they are."

    Unofficial reports vary on the number of undocumented Filipinos in Iraq, with estimates, ranging from 800 to 2,000. If a recruitment agency official is to be believed, OFWs continue to go to Iraq using third countries as jumpoff points with the collusion of unscrupulous local placement firms and airport authorities.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/16/2005 9:28 AM  

  • BAGHDAD has become more dangerous but Filipinos keep pouring in to find jobs there, charge d’affaires Eric Endaya of the Philippine embassy in Iraq said Friday.

    “It’s more deadly now than say three months ago. I now go around with a bodyguard. I communicate with the Filipinos there mostly via e-mail. I discourage them from going to the embassy because of the high risks involved,” he said.

    By Anonymous observer, at 6/19/2005 8:47 AM  

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