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PHILIPPINES: Pinoy Workers' Attempt to Go to Iraq Thwarted

Sun-Star Manila
December 13th, 2005

Eighty-eight Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) bound for Iraq were prevented from leaving Dubai over the weekend for "allegedly having no valid working permits," it was learned Monday.

Due to the incident, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) cautioned prospective jobseekers anew on unscrupulous recruiters operating in different provinces and illegally recruiting people who want to work in Iraq.

POEA Administrator Rosalinda Baldoz said many Filipino workers deployed to Iraq have been entering the country illegally since the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) had imposed the ban on deployment of OFWs last year following the abduction of truck driver Angelo dela Cruz.

"The ban is still in effect and this means we are not deploying our OFWs to Iraq," she said.

Baldoz said they will investigate the incident to determine who hired those who were prevented entry into Iraq. "We will investigate this upon the release of reports from our Philippine Overseas Labor Office (Polo) in Dubai and we will see our records since we have to know if the people involved are accredited with us or not," he said.

She revealed that people operating in various provinces and illegally recruiting Filipinos who are willing to work in Iraq belong to a group of a certain Leah Viray. "This (Viray's) syndicate has been successful in deploying Filipinos to Iraq illegally using Dubai as the jump-off point," she said.

A report said the 88 OFWs chartered an aircraft to fly them to Iraq.

The stranded OFWs are under the custody of Dubai immigration authorities at the Dubai International Airport.

Despite the security risks and the ban on deployment, Filipino workers still sneak into Iraq because of the high compensation being offered by foreign principals, which ranges from US$3,000 to US$5,000 monthly. Records show that about 1,500 to 2,000 OFWs were able to enter Iraq by crossing the border from Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey and Dubai. (MSN/Sunnex)

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