Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Baghdad are seeking help from the Philippine government as their employers asked them to pay $8,000 before joining the mandatory repatriation from Iraq.
“Sunshine,” a Filipino manicurist in Iraq, said that along with a group of undocumented Filipino workers in the city are aware of President Rodrigo Duterte’s order for mandatory repatriation. However, they were asked to pay before getting back home.
Duterte ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) following the drone strike of US in Iran that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani last week.
“He told us to pay 8,000 dollars. That’s per head,” Sunshine said.
“We’re also scared,” she said. “But that’s what happened.”
Sunshine admitted that some of them—around 60 Filipinos—were direct hires of the company, thus, being undocumented workers.
She also admitted that her employer probably bribed people to get them in, even though a travel ban in Iraq is implemented.
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Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Cacdac told Sunshine, during the radio program, that they will seek assistance from the Department of Foreign Affairs, so the Philippine Embassy could reach them.
However, Sunshine answered in Filipino, “[We do not trust the staff of the Philippine Embassy in Iraq.]”
She demanded to talk to Cacdac in private.
“[We are afraid of our employer. We do not know what he is capable of once he learns that we sought help],” Sunshine added.
Illegal recruitment in Iraq
Moreover, Cacdac noted that the Philippine government must investigate the illegal recruitment in Baghdad.
“There’s a possibility that more are being recruited right now. We need to stop that,” he said.
He also advised the victims of human trafficking to visit or contact the embassy for help.
OFWs may reach the embassy at phone numbers 07816066822, 07516167838, 07518764665 and 07508105240;
Via email is through firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com; and its Facebook page.