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Cimatu: Some Iraqi employers demanded P500K before allowing OFWs to go home

/ 10:31 PM January 21, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Some Iraqi employers of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who opted to return home amid the crisis in the Middle East wanted $10,000 or P500,000 before allowing them to leave.

This was the revelation made by special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu on Tuesday during the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs’ discussion on urgent OFW matters.

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Cimatu said the Philippine government recently repatriated 13 Filipinos from Iraq—nine were from Baghdad and four were from Erbil.

“There are some recruiters who were able to receive from the employer $10,000 and when they (OFWs) volunteer to come home, the employer would not allow them until they have to pay $10,000,” Cimatu said.

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“Therefore, they were able to get exit visa but when they were inside the airport, going to the immigration, they were barred, they were stopped because of the employer,” he added.

Cimatu said the employers followed the Filipinos to the airport and said that they have not settled the $10,000 fee they paid the recruiters.

The Filipinos were not able to leave Iraq that night and spent the night at the airport, Cimatu said.

“They stayed there and I would also like to commend the chargé d’affaires in Baghdad na sinamahan nilang matulog mismo sa loob ng detention center ng airport,” Cimatu said.

(They stayed there and I would also like to commend the chargé d’affaires in Baghdad who joined the Filipinos inside the detention center of the airport.)

The Filipinos were able to return home the following day with the help of the Iraqi Embassy, Cimatu said.

Cimatu said he had received reports that the situation in Baghdad in Iraq is “deteriorating,” highlighting the need for the immediate repatriation of OFWs there.

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President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the military to prepare its air and naval assets for the possible repatriation of OFWs in the Middle East after the U.S. launched an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed Iran’s top general, Qasem Soleimani.

The Philippine government had repeatedly said that it is ready to repatriate Filipinos in the Middle East amid the crisis in the region.

Edited by JPV
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TAGS: Iraq, Labor, Middle east, OFW, repatriation, Roy Cimatu, workers
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