OFWs now regret getting jobs in Iraq

By Maxxy Santiago, ABS-CBN Middle East News Bureau

Posted at Jul 22 2014 03:54 PM | Updated as of Jul 23 2014 06:46 PM

BAGHDAD – Despite the total deployment ban, there are still Filipinos who manage to sneak into Iraq to work.

"May pinangako sila sa amin na bonus para sa mga first batch na mga Pilipino, hindi pa rin natutupad. Tapos yong sahod namin na 500 dollars natutupad naman pero late," said Reynaldo, a waiter in Iraq.

Reynaldo has been serving as a waiter for a restaurant in Iraq. He said he has no day off, no overtime pay and sick leaves are hard to avail.

"Nagsisi po. Kasi ang pangako naman sa amin wala na raw kaguluhan dito noong nasa Dubai kami dahil sa yong passport ko wala na yung 'not valid for travel to Iraq.' Pero nong dumating po kami dito from airport to Arasad na byahe ang daming mga tangke, mga sundalo kaya sa unang lapag pa naming kinabahan na ako," he said.

Like Reynaldo, Angelo was also part of the first batch of Pinoys recruited by a new restaurant in Iraq last May. Despite the mandatory repatriation being implemented by the Philippine government, the company still manages to recruit more OFWs from Dubai.

"Bale 38 na po kami kasi may bagong dumating na anim galing po sila ng Dubai," Angelo said.

The same happened to Estela, a former assistant teacher in Dubai who became a domestic worker in Baghdad.

"Pinangako po sa amin salary starting 600 (dollars), sa palasyo daw po kami sa Erbil maganda raw po yong mapupuntahan namin," she said.

They now want to go home following the worsening security situation in Iraq.

"Sa mga kababayan kong nasa Dubai, kung makikita nyo man itong hiring dito sa Iraq huwag na kayong pumunta dito kasi hindi mo masasabi iyong kaligtasan natin dito. Pag gusto mo nang umuwi pahirapan pa may gagawin pa sa yo iyong ang amo mo. Magiging kawawa lang kayo dito," Angelo said.

The Philippine Rapid Response Team (RRT) is alarmed with the arrival of more OFWs to Iraq. They appealed to OFWs to not accept work, with the promise of high pay, for deployment to Iraq.

"Huwag po kayo maniwala dahil po pagsisisihan po ninyo ito. Unang-una baka hindi po kayo mabayaran. Pangalawa, ang security situation dito baka lalo pong lumala kaya lalo tayong mag-ingat sa mga human traffickers at illegal recruiters. Huwag ho natin silang paniwalaan na may mga magandang trabaho dito sa Iraq," said Ambassador Ricardo Endaya, head of the Philippine RRT.