Migrante International chairperson Garry Martinez today said that overseas Filipino workers in Iraq are “not keen” on Special Ambassador Roy Cimatu’s visit to Iraq following the pull-out order for OFWs working in the region.
Martinez pointed out a number of unresolved issues related to Cimatu’s trip, among them:
– the Department of Foreign Affairs failure to evacuate OFWs during the Iraq war in 2004 despite the allocation of USD253,500 repatriation funds;
– allegations that Cimatu spent said repatriation funds for the procurement of humvees, other military vehicles and food for RP troops deployed to Iraq in 2004;
– that the DFA failed to impose the deployment ban in Iraq, accounting to the number of OFWs having doubled since then; and, lastly,
– that at least 15,000 OFWs in Iraq prefer to stay on despite the dangers because no jobs await them here.
“Hindi welcome si Cimatu sa ating mga kababayan sa Iraq dahil minsan na niyang nilinlang ang mga OFW doon at hindi pinagkalooban ng proteksyon. Until now, no investigation has taken place on the alleged misuse of the repatriation funds. Hindi mga OFW ang nakinabang doon because no evacuation took place in 2005,” Martinez said.
He said that he now finds it “terribly ironic” that the DFA is making a big event out of Cimatu’s recent trip to Iraq “in the guise of ensuring the protection of our OFWs.”
Martinez also said that while they welcomed the evacuation of at least 15,000 OFWS following the recent pull-out order, they also share OFWs and their families’ apprehensions.
“Mixed emotions ang ating mga OFWs dahil alam nilang kapag bumalik sila dito ay hindi naman tiyak na magkakatrabaho sila. Most of them would opt to risk danger and death instead of job insecurity here. This is the saddest reality for our OFWs in Iraq,” Martinez said.
He called on the Aquino administration to immediately address the employment of at least 15,000 OFWs who are set to be pulled out of Iraq. “Hindi sasapat ang P10,000 na reintegration training package na ipinagmamalaki ng DFA. Ang kailangan ng ating mga kababayan ay trabahong nakakabuhay at may katiyakan.”