OFWs in Afghanistan don’t want to leave
Over 5,000 overseas Filipino workers inside 64 United States bases in Afghanistan are appealing to President Benigno Aquino to lift the year-end deadline imposed by the Department of Foreign Affairs for all OFWs to leave the troubled country.
The Afghanistan workers want to stay and said they should be given the same treatment as the OFWs in US bases in Iraq, who have been allowed to stay until the departure of all US troops.
The Filipino workers represented by Carlo Echano, a senior logistics manager of an US company and Junie Fernandez, members of the Pinoy Bunker and Filipinos in Afghanistan associations said this was their “last-ditch” appeal because their US employers have begun sending out notices of their coming separation.
The US Army issued a memorandum stating that all contractors in Afghanistan employing individuals from countries whose domestic laws prohibit their citizens from working in Afghanistan will not be hired.
Echano said US security protocols and hardened bunkers were more than enough to protect OFWs in Afghanistan. Many Filipino workers are in the Kandahar and Bagram Air Force Bases which has huge perimeter defenses, they said.
The workers are employed by US contractors and are covered by a minimum $50,000 insurance policies. They said their salaries were higher than wages in the Middle East.
The workers said they were willing to sign a waiver that would relinquish the Philippine government of any problems or responsibility should anything happen to them during their stay in Afghanistan.
The Afghanistan-based OFWs have filed petitions with the Office of the President and the Vice-President Jejomar Binay.
The employment ban in Afghanistan was imposed in October 2004. The government expanded this in 2007 to include Nigeria, Iraq and Lebanon. The Philippine embassy extended the effectivity of the ban to December 2011.