Hans Cacdac, head of the labour ministry’s Overseas Employment Administration stated that Filipinos, except for household helpers who are mainly female, can now work in Iraq outside four “no-go” provinces still considered dangerous.
He hopes that Filipinos will leave significant impact over the blooming sectors of the country, like oil and gas, construction, medical and hotel industries.
Cacdac told AFP, “According to the Department of Foreign Affairs, the security situation is good enough to have overseas Filipino workers in Iraq.” He added, “But the workers will be advised to take the precautionary measures.”
He said Filipina maids will still be barred from Iraq because there was “no adequate protection in place” for them. In 2004, Filipino truck driver was hijacked in Iraq in the wake of the US-led invasion there. Since, then the government of the Philippines has blocked its people to go to Iraq for job opportunities. The driver was released unharmed after then-president Gloria Arroyo pulled out a Filipino contingent serving in the US-led coalition.
The government of Philippines has marked a few places as ‘no go’ zones. These no go zones have been considered to be still dangerous for the people of Philippines. Cadac stated that the ‘no go’ areas are: Anbar, Nineveh, Kirkuk and Salahuddin.
Despite the nine-year ban, industry analysts had estimated that as many as 10,000 Filipinos were working in Iraq illegally. Cacdac however said he knew of only about 700 workers there now.
On the other hand, the government agency stated that the Iraqi officials have previously asked the Philippines to let its workers be deployed for “the rehabilitation of Iraqi industries and facilities.”
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon warned on Monday that Iraq was “on the brink”, with the country suffering its worst wave of violence since 2008. More than 3,000 people have been killed so far this year.
An estimated 10 million Filipinos or about 10 percent of the population work abroad in search of better pay than at home. It has to be stated that the money they send back is a major pillar of the Philippine economy but their safety is also a hot political issue.