Blanket ban on sending Filipinos in Iraq is in anticipation of an increase in level of violence in the country
Gulf News February 4, 2012
Manila: The Philippines announced that it has imposed a total ban on sending Filipino workers to Iraq in anticipation of a surge in violence following the withdrawal of US forces in the country.
Labour Secretary Rosalinda Dimapilis-Baldo said that a ban has been imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (Poea) on sending Filipinos to Iraq in anticipation of an increase in the level of violence in the country.
“The Poea Governing Board has issued the resolution after the Office of the President has approved the recommendation of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) raising the Alert Level in Iraq from Alert Level 2 to Alert Level 3,” Baldoz said in a statement.
Baldoz chairs the governing board of the Poea, the government agency in charge of regulating and enforcing the country’s undeclared labour export policy.
Under the DFA and Poea-observed threat assessment warning system, Alert Level 2 means the imposition of certain restrictions on working in a certain host country. Alert Level 3 means that a deployment ban is being enforced.
“The recommendation was in view of the expected surge of terrorism and sectarian violence in Iraq following the withdrawal of US military forces last December 2011,” Baldoz added.
However, Baldoz added that while a total ban on the deployment of overseas Filipino workers is being observed in all of Iraq, the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan Region is not covered by the restriction.
“The resolution imposes a total ban on OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) to Iraq but allows deployment to Kurdistan subject to Poea rules and regulations,” Baldoz said.
In 2007, the Poea suspended the processing and deployment of all OFWs bound for Iraq (and Afghanistan) due to the unstable peace and order situation in those countries.
Then on September 2, 2011, the Poea, through Governing Board Resolution No. 5 Series of 2011, allowed those with existing contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan and working inside American military camps and facilities to finish their contracts and to extend or renew these contracts onsite. The resolution also allowed covered workers to be redeployed to finish their contracts should they go home to the Philippines before their contracts’ expiration.
“The ban will stay until such time that it has been determined that the security condition has normalized, after due consultation with the DFA,” Baldoz explained.
The imposition of a total deployment ban is recommended for countries placed under Alert Level 3.
In July 2004, the government of then president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was caught in a bind when militants abducted Angelo dela Cruz, a Filipino truck driver working for an American contractor.
Although Dela Cruz was eventually released and sent home, the Philippines had been extra-cautious in placing the lives of OFWs at risk.
MANILA, Philippines—The government is retaining the ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Nigeria, and Somalia, mainly because of the unstable and volatile security situation in these countries, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
Overseas Filipino workers (OFW) groups in Afghanistan and Iraq earlier appealed to the government to lift the labor deployment ban.
But an interagency committee which periodically reviews the policy recommended against the lifting of the ban because of the unstable security situation in these war-torn countries.
According to DFA spokesman J. Eduardo Malaya, adequate terms of employment and the overall safety and security of OFWs cannot be assured in these countries, as required by the Migrant Workers Act, or Republic Act 8042.
The law mandates that the government adhere to strict guidelines in allowing the deployment of OFWs to other countries. It also imposes heavy penalties on government officials who allow the deployment of migrant workers without the guarantees required by law.
The committee, led by the DFA, also includes the Department of Labor and Employment, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
The DFA has yet to comment on reports that foreign civilian contractors in Afghanistan have started terminating Filipino workers in line with a September 17 order issued by the US Central Command (Centcom). Please read the entire story here
The U.S. Military Command has ordered its civilian contractors in Afghanistan to stop hiring Filipino workers and send home those whose job contracts have ended to comply with the Philippine government’s ban on deploying citizens to work in the war-torn country.
Up to 7,000 Filipinos are affected by the order and their jobs will go to other nationalities, according to Filipino recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani.
U.S. contractors Dyn International LLC and Fluor Intercontinental are to build camps for American troops in Afghanistan and provide the corresponding food, facilities maintenance and other life-support services. Their contracts amount to $5 billion. Please read the entire article here
FILIPINO workers stand to lose some 6,000 to 7,000 potential “good-paying jobs” in Afghanistan as a memorandum from the United States Military Command directed US contractors there to stop the hiring of third-country nationals whose domestic laws have deployment bans to the war-torn country
Filipino recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani said that the jobs have been instead given to other nationalities vying for civilian contractor jobs in Afghanistan.
The job orders have since been awarded to Afghans, Pakistanese, Indians, Nepalese, Serbs, Macedonians, Fijis and other nationals.
Until the freeze memo from the US Military Command is lifted, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there can no longer work with US international contractors.
This, he said, is despite “the surge in the construction of 20 more additional Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) for the additional 30,000 US Army troops ordered by President Barack Obama.”
According to Geslani, reports reach him that US companies Dyn International LLC was awarded the work for southern Afghanistan and Fluor Intercontinental was selected for work in northern Afghanistan. Both jobs will total to about $15-billion worth of contracts for the next five years.
The task orders encompass base life-support services and logistics support, which include base setup, food service, facilities maintenance, and morale, welfare and recreation.
“Filipino workers who have plans to proceed to Dubai, Kuwait or Bahrain and apply for civilian jobs in Afghanistan in the recruiting stations at the international airports are advised not to go on with their plans as all international contractors at US Military Bases are not allowed anymore to hire Filipinos despite the recommendations of logistics managers and supervisors who prefer to hire Filipinos for the civilian jobs inside the bases,” Geslani said.
Carlo Echano, a senior logistics manager for Dyn Corp., said that about 800 Filipinos comprise the more than 13,000 manpower of his company but because of the order from the US military command, Dyn Corp. had to stop the recruitment of Filipino workers.
The firm supplies necessary materials for US bases in the southern region of Afghanistan.
In a statement, Geslani said that “there are about anywhere from 500 to 1,000 jobless Filipino workers in Kabul scrounging for jobs.”
“Most of them came from the neighboring countries of Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain after finishing their contracts and did not return to the Philippines, to try their luck in landing the very high-paying jobs in Afghanistan,” he added.
Salaries in the bases amount from $2,000 to $15,000 in US bases. More than 6,000 OFWs remit about $1,000 each to their families in the Philippines every month.
“That’s around $6 million or P250,000 million each month and over P3 billion to the economy and yet the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] refuses to lift the ban for our countrymen but accepts the money sent by the OFWs,” Geslani said.
Several spokesmen for the Filipino workers in Afghanistan have called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd “to lift the ban immediately as the US government is waiting for the [Foreign Affairs department’s] response to the imminent termination of all Filipino workers in Afghanistan working in US bases.”
Several groups clamor for the recall of the ban, saying that US bases are generally safe.
Since 2007, a total travel and work ban has been imposed to Afghanistan because of continuing security concerns in the country, citing numerous attacks by the Taliban and several bomb attacks directed towards United Nations forces.
The department last week said that it would not be proposing the lift of the ban despite numerous calls from OFW groups because it cannot ensure the safety of all Filipinos working there.
An order from the United States Central Command official in September last year “virtually tied” the hands of US contractors to hire additional OFWs for their new contracts as they have been advised to remove all third-country nationals, including Filipinos, whose domestic laws prevent them from working in Afghanistan. Please see the original article here
Some 2,000 Filipino workers currently in U.S. military bases and facilities in Iraq could stay in that war-torn country until their contracts expire and if their safety and eventual repatriation are guaranteed by their employers.
But the Philippines’ current total ban against the deployment of Filipino workers to Iraq remains.
This “high-level decision” on how supposedly banned Filipino workers in Iraq are to be handled was reached by a governmental Inter-agency Task Force in Manila, following observations by Special Envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu.
The decision had been forwarded to the concerned U.S. authorities, through the Philippine embassies in Washington and Baghdad, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on Thursday.
Cimatu was in and out of Iraq in the past weeks, against the backdrop of the first-phase withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq by August 29 next week.
Following this policy of the administration of President Barack Obama, American job contractors have been directed to take stock of their workplaces, including their employment of Filipinos and Nepalese nationals who are banned by their respective countries from being in Iraq.
Philippine passports are stamped “Not Valid for Travel to Iraq” because of the high security risk there as the U.S. engages in anti-terrorism operations.
A July 20 memorandum of the U.S. Central Contracting Command (CENTCOM) in Iraq had given work contractors until August 9 for the ‘prompt repatriation’ of their Filipino workers out of Iraq, citing the latter’s presence as contrary to the laws of the U.S., Iraq and the Philippines.
Heeding Cimatu’s assessment, the Task Force decided that instead of repatriating the workers, albeit against their will, they were allowed to stay with guarantees from employers who were just too willing to retain them.
DFA said the decision could ‘be considered compliant’ with the memorandum signed by Col. Richard Nolan, senior contracting officer in Iraq of CENTCOM.
“Upon the approval of the high-level inter-agency committee mandated to assess the security situation of and ensure the safety and welfare of Filipino workers in Iraq, Filipino workers in U.S. military facilities may continue working there until their contracts expire,” DFA said.
“It’s a win-win situation for Filipinos who preferred to continue despite the risks and to their employer-contractors who saw a dire need for them,” according to a DFA source.
“The decision has the effect of ‘legitimating’ their stay, if only for a short while, despite the deployment ban,” another DFA source noted.
Given that scenario, Cimatu’s mission had been quite difficult, the source said. Add to this the workers’ hesitance to leave Iraq because of the good pay and limited job opportunities in the Philippines, they are willing to face the risk, the source added.
Cimatu could not be contacted, but it is reasonable to deduce that he figured out the 2,000 after meetings in Iraq with contractors, among others.
Sources said that about 10,000 Filipinos were discovered to have been left behind in Iraq by their previous employers, known as ‘jumpers’, at various contractor-controlled camps throughout Iraq.
But with only about 2,000 workers ‘legitimated’ by the Task Force, it is not clear from DFA what happened to the rest.
DFA continued: “According to the task force, Filipino workers currently employed by the U.S. government or their subcontractors inside U.S. military bases and facilities will be allowed to continue working in Iraq on the condition that their safety is assured and there will be guaranteed repatriation to the Philippines at the end of their engagement.”
Aside from DFA, other agencies in the Task Force are the Department of Labor and Employment, the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration and the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, and the Office of the Executive Secretary. Original Story here
MANILA, Philippines – Job offers, not sanctions, are waiting for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), who violated the Philippine government’s deployment ban to Iraq.
This was the assurance made by Carmelita Dimzon, head of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), amid the US government’s order to its subcontractors in Iraq to repatriate Filipino workers.
“I don’t think punishing them or sanctioning them at this point will be done,” Dimzon said in an interview on ANC’s On The Scene on Tuesday.
She said that there are at least 8,000 to 10,000 Filipinos working for US military contractors and subcontractors in Iraq.
In a memorandum issued by the United States Central Command last July 20, Colonel Richard Nolan, senior contracting officer of the Iraq CentCom Contracting Command said: “All contractors in Iraq have 20 days from the date of this letter to ensure their employees comply with US and international law and understood their redeployment responsibilities under the term of their contract.”
The memo added: “It is the contractor’s responsibility to ensure that it is not employing people from countries prohibited from entry to Iraq.”