OFWs still want to stay in Iraq despite danger

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Jun 26 2014 04:59 PM | Updated as of Jun 27 2014 08:52 AM

KUWAIT – The ongoing conflict in Iraq and the Philippine government's announcement of mandatory repatriation are not enough to convince more Filipinos to leave the country.

So far, only two Filipinos from the Green Zone in Baghdad have signified their intention to be repatriated.

In Kurdistan, Filipinos there remain calm despite the DFA's hoisting of Alert Level 2 last Monday. The region is host to an estimated 800 Filipinos.

"Huwag po kayong mag-alala kasi matahimik naman po dito sa Kurdistan. Makikita niyo po sa paligid, matahimik naman po. Normal din po ang pagtratrabaho ng mga kababayan namin dito," said hotel manager Lagrimas Lejiralde.

The Department of Foreign Affairs reminded Filipinos there to restrict non-essential movements, avoid public places, and take extra precaution.

"Sa ngayon po, wala naman po kaming ginagawang paghahanda kasi sa nakikita nyo nga sa aking lugar ngayon wala namang tensyong nangyayari katulad ng mga nababalita sa ibang lugar," said Reggie Comilang.

For Filipinos in Kurdistan, they continue to live their normal lives.

Airport staff Efren Barroso said, "Sa nangyayari po ngayon sa Iraq, nong unang napabalita ang mga pangyayari, natural po na magkaroon ng konting takot pero po sa nakaraang mga ilang araw tahimik na tahimik."

Dennifer Espiritu said their family back home has nothing to worry about.

"Wala naman po talagang gulong nangyayari dito at safe na safe po kami dito sa Erbil Kurdistan. Wala po akong balak umuwi dahil maayos naman po kami dito," Espiritu said.

Meanwhile in Kuwait, the Philippine Embassy, together with ABS-CBN Middle East, visited the Kuwait-Iraq border.

"Gusto po naming sabihin sa taong bayan, sa mga Pilipino sa Kuwait, not to worry although malapit ang Iraq. Dito naman sa Kuwait ang lahat ng safeguards at security apparatus ng bansang ito is very strong," said Consul General Raul Dado.

The embassy likewise met with the Kuwait Ministry of Foreign Affairs should Filipinos in Iraq need to be transferred to Kuwait.

"Kung kinakailangan mag move ang mga kababayan natin from Iraq to Kuwait, kausap na namin mga otoridades ng Kuwait and they have promised to help us with transit visas or whatever documentary requirements na kinakailangan natin to enter Kuwait, if ever Kuwait ang maging receptacle. Pero gusto po naming sabihin sa sambayanan to relax, don’t worry. The embassy will always be here to monitor, to give advise and to work," said Dado.