Philippine workers free to go to Iraqi Kurdistan


Supporters of the Iraqi Communist Party take part in the May Day march, in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 1, 2012. The Philippines has lifted an eight-year ban on its nationals working in Iraq, but only for the autonomous Kurdistan region. AP PHOTO/HADI MIZBAN

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines has lifted an eight-year ban on its nationals working in Iraq, but only for the Middle Eastern country’s autonomous Kurdistan region, the foreign ministry said Sunday.

In 2004 then-president Gloria Arroyo withdraw a contingent of Filipino police and soldiers assigned to the US-led coalition in Iraq after a Filipino truck driver was kidnapped and threatened with beheading.

The driver was released unharmed and Arroyo banned all Filipinos from working in the country.

Now Filipino overseas workers, a major engine of the economy, will be allowed to return to Kurdistan but not the rest of Iraq, Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez said in a statement.

“POEA (the official Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) has already lifted the deployment ban for the Kurdistan region in Iraq,” he said. “Only the Kurdistan region for now.”

Despite the ban, officials estimated that as many as 10,000 Filipinos continued to work in Iraq.

Nine million Filipinos, 10 percent of the population, work overseas largely in low-skilled jobs such as maids and sailors, but also as nurses, engineers and IT specialists.

They sent $18.17 billion back to the Philippines last year, equivalent to 10 percent of the country’s GDP, and are hailed as modern-day heroes by many of their countrymen for helping keep the economy afloat.

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  • EdgarEdgar

    Wow, are we sure about the security situation in Kurdistan? Sooner or later, that autonomous region will be clamped down by the Iraqis themselves because they don’t want the Kurds to secede from Iraq. More fighting, more violence and more evacuations are in the cards. But then again, thanks to Blackwater and Xe for talking our government into lifting the ban.

    • Jhon

      EdgarEdgar, magka sundo rin yan sa huli, wala na ang leader niyang walang kuwenta, mamatay tao. now it’s time to Iraq to grow more and more and haapy country. Ang problema nalang sa mundo ngayon bakit nawalan ng mga trabaho ang mga tao dahil halos 50percent sa production is na pupunta sa china. iwan ko ba itong mga first world country bakit doon nagtayo ng planta para sa production? oo, mura ang labor pero hindi parin ako kampanti sa quality ng product. at isa pa, hindi maganda ang gov nila kasi, ngayon palang hindi na maganda ang pinakitang ugali ng Gov nila, at seguro matagal na ito. Sa bagay comista naman ito. Ito ang nag papahirap sa mundo ngayon. Salamat!!!

      • William Tyre

        you don’t understand jhon, kurds are ethnically, culturally and religiously different from the iraqis. ibang version ang islam nila. hindi yan magkakasundo.

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