Press Release
June 25, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed concern over the security implications of having Filipino mercenaries fighting on the side of American troops in the war in Iraq especially in view of indications that their presence there has the secret consent of the Philippine government.

Pimentel said the reported deployment of about 3,000 Filipinos tasked with securing American diplomatic officials and assisting US combat troops in Iraq could not have been possible without the knowledge and clearance of Manila.

Our countrymen are being recruited to fight the Iraq war as proxies for the Americans. That makes them mercenaries - reminiscent of the French foreign legion that fought the French wars in Africa as proxies of the latter, he said.

The minority leader noted that the recruits are hired by prominent American job firms and trained in Subic before being sent to Iraq. He also asked why travel visas of the recruits are not marked not valid for Iraq despite the supposedly strict government ban on the deployment of workers to that strife-torn country.

The problem that the government faces in this regard is that it feigns utter powerlessness to stop it because it tends to look at the recruitment as a business proposition. Those who are recruited are being paid good money which, in the governments capitalist orientation, would be justified because the mercenaries prefer to be recruited for war rather than continue with their lives of joblessness. Pimentel said.

The recruits are reportedly paid a minimum of $2,000 a month.

Warning of a possible security backlash on the country, Pimentel said: The additional problem is that these mercenaries might make the country and our embassies and trade missions vulnerable to counter-attack by those being attacked by the mercenaries in Iraq.

He recalled that the Abu Sayyaf leaders in Mindanao were mercenaries and proxies for the US in the war against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan some years back. But after the Soviet troops were driven out of Afghanistan, the Abu Sayyaf mercenaries turned their war proclivities against our own people when they came home.

History might repeat itself and worsen the law an order situation in the country unless the government provides a decisive solution to the problem of our young men being recruited as mercenaries and proxies for the US in the war in Iraq, Pimentel said. And that can only take the form of decent job opportunities in the country. The Arroyo government, however, has no coherent solution to the problem. Hence, the recruits will go to Iraq, the risks will be there for them and the country. We can only pray that the God who has protected us all these years will continue to do so despite our recklessness.

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