11 Pinay trafficking victims want to flee Iraq

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Jul 19 2014 07:33 AM | Updated as of Jul 19 2014 03:33 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq – Eleven Filipina victims of human trafficking are among those who have signified their intention to be repatriated following the deteriorating security situation in the country.

“Mary”, not her real name, still tears up every time she recalls her miraculous rescue in Mosul after her employers left her in the middle of firefight.

“Nagtatakbuhan po sila, nagtatakbuhan po, tapos nong nagtatakbuhan sila, ang hirap isipin, dahil may trauma pa po ako. Bawat putok pag nag-iisip ko pa rin parang ang sakit isipin kung paano ako napunta sa lugar na yon. Tuloy-tuloy po ang putok,” said Mary.

Mary used to work in Dubai but was encouraged by a job offer in Erbil which she saw from a website.

“May nag refer po sa akin na kaibigan ko na isang site na dubizzle, kailangan po nila ng 6 na Filipina na magtrabaho sa palace at ang sahod 600 dollars,” said Mary.

She said a Filipina and her Emirati husband recruited her. But instead of a job in the palace, her recruiters brought her to Mosul where she worked as a domestic helper.

Like Mary, “Karen” also came from Dubai. She was promised a 1,500 dollars salary as a personal assistant in the palace but ended up in Baghdad as a Zumba instructor.

“Hindi ako naging katulong. Pero yong iba po pinapangakuan po nila ng ibang trabaho pero ang bagsak po dito katulong,” Karen said.

Others like Soraya was recruited straight from the Philippines. She travelled from Zamboanga to Malaysia supposedly to work in Jordan but also ended up in Baghdad.

“Twenty-four po kaming naglakbay papunta po Jordan. Ang napunta ng Iraq ay dalawa lang kasi po sa Malaysia pa lang nahuli na ang 22,” she said.

Another trafficking victim, “Nancy” added, “Pag nandon na kami sa eroplano pipilasin po namin ang binigay sa amin na mga dokumento, visa, OEC at lahat po ng dokumento. Pagdating po namin sa Dubai nag text po sila sa amin punta kami sa Internet, tingnan naming ang ticket naming papuntang Baghdad”.

According to them, their employers paid around 7,000 to 10,000 dollars to their recruiters. They fled to the embassy when violence erupted.

Nancy was recruited along with two of her friends for Dubai but they were unaware that they were being sent to Iraq.

“Maari nga sa paningin nila normal ang makikita nila dito sa Baghdad, pero hindi natin pwedeng itatwa na 65 kilometers west of Baghdad sa Fallujaj ay matindi ang bakbakan between the militants and the Iraqi army at saka dito sa Tikrit, sa Baqubah, sa Diyala, matindi rin ang labanan. Kaya huwag po nating maliitin ang threats dito sa bansang ito,” said Ambassador Ricardo Endaya, head of the Philippine Rapid Response Team (RRT).

The RRT and the embassy are ready to assist Filipinos caught in the middle of conflict in Iraq.

“So far may mga kababayan tayo na tumatawag sa atin at humihingi sila ng tulong para makarating dito sa embassy. Karamihan sa kanila biktima ng human trafficking,” said RRT member, Melvin Laguros.

Ambassador Endaya urged Filipinos to heed the government’s call for a mandatory repatriation.

“Delikado na po talaga sa bansang Iraq habang bukas pa ang paliparan sa Baghdad, samantalahin ang offer ng gobyerno na libreng ticket ng pauwi ng Pilipinas para di maipit sa kaguluhan,” he said.