Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Migrants’ advocacy group, Migrante-Middle East (M-ME) today questions the intention of the Philippine government plan to lift the ban on overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to Iraq after the latter through the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) sent a delegation in Iraq that arrived on Monday.
On Monday, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Raul Hernandez confirmed that a delegation, headed by DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis, had arrived in Iraq to meet ranking officials of the Iraqi government.
The DFA stated that the delegation is tasked to assess the possibility of reopening the PH embassy in Baghdad and the lifting of the ban on the deployment of OFWs to the war-torn country.
Reacting on the plan of the Aquino govt. to lift the ban on OFWs in Iraq, M-ME regional coordinator John Leonard Monterona cautioned the PH govt. saying “it is too early to lift the ban in Iraq, though this is in-line with the labor policy direction of the Aquino administration.”
“Basing on the reports we have been receiving on the ground from our fellow OFWs and linked non-government organizations, the peace and order situation in Iraq is still unstable as sporadic bombings and infightings are occurring,” Monterona said.
Monterona noted that it is because the internal conflict between the US-influenced Iraqi govt. forces and rebel groups is still intense manifested by daily infightings and bombings and encounters even in Baghdad and other major cities in Iraq.
“With such volatile peace and order situation in Iraq and when most of US military forces leaving in Iraq by December, we could almost foresee an escalation of the internal conflict in Iraq, thus lifting the ban on OFWs is not wise under such circumstances,” Monterona averred.
Monterona noted that last month the DFA had stopped marking newly released passports “Not Valid for travel to Iraq”.
“This is in-line with the Aquino govt. plan to eventually lift OFWs deployment ban to Iraq so that it could continue to peddle OFWs labor cheap in clear disregard to OFWs safety and well-being,” he added.
“It is now clearer that the Aquino administration’s labor policy direction is just a continuation of the preceding administration, which intensified the peddling of OFWs by re-exploring labor frontiers abroad even in war-torn countries as it could see pouring of developmental aids from the US and other imperialist countries,” Monterona added.
“By all indications, the Aquino administration, just like the previous administrations, will continue to rely on OFWs remittances sans protection of OFWs well being, rights, and welfare. The Aquino administration is geared to intensify its labor exportation program in its vain attempt to temporarily ease the problem of unemployment and underemployment and at the same time siphoned the billion dollars OFWs remittance that is keeping the economy afloat,” Monterona claimed.
Monterona ended saying: “The intensified labor export program will not solve the problem of unemployment, of OFWs rampant abuses and labor malpractices, of broken OFWs families, as it stirs high the social cost of forced migration.”
John Leonard Monterona
Migrante-Middle East regional coordinator