President Duterte ordered the mandatory repatriation of Filipinos in Iraq amidst the escalating tension between Iran and the United States. The President issued the directive to different government embassies and agencies to evacuate all Filipinos in Iraq. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana reported that Alert Level 4 was raised in Iraq, causing the mandatory evacuation.
It wasn’t easy for some Filipino workers to follow this order though. Amongst the group of 13 repatriated Filipinos, a few of them had faced minor trouble with immigration. Their employers followed them and stopped them from leaving the country unless they pay back $10,000 or about P500,000.
Middle East Special Envoy and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reported that some employers give $10,000 to the recruiters. They would not allow their employees to come home until they pay this amount back.
“They were able to get an exit visa and while they were inside the immigration, they were stopped because the employer followed them. They were told they haven’t paid $10,000 yet so they weren’t able to leave that night, “Cimatu reported.
This group of Filipino workers had to sleep at the airport’s detention center that night since they were held by the authorities. They were able to leave only after the Department of Foreign Affairs has reached out to the Iraqi Embassy officials.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Migrant Workers’ Affairs Sarah Lou Arriola reported that there are about 1,640 Filipinos, 350 of which are undocumented. Only 15 Filipinos have come home despite the mandatory repatriation order of the President. Most workers refuse to go home because they fear that there will be no jobs or livelihood opportunities waiting for them.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, on the other hand, assured our fellow Filipinos that employment and livelihood opportunities will be given to those who will follow the repatriation program.
Source: CNN Philippines