Press Release
July 5, 2010


Senator Edgardo J. Angara today called on the Bureau of Immigration and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) to beef up screening procedures for outbound Filipino overseas workers, and prevent them from entering Afghanistan and other war-torn countries.

Angara expressed concern over the 7,000 Filipinos that entered Afghanistan illegally to work as logistics, catering and maintenance personnel for the barracks and camps of the US and other foreign bases in Bagram and Kandahar, or for security sub-contractors of various governments with bases in Afghanistan. This, Angara said, "despite a 2007 travel ban for Filipinos to Afghanistan."

"It is especially alarming with the recent incident of suicide bombing attack at a USAID compound in Northern Afghanistan, where a Filipino was wounded. It could have been worse, and we don't want that happening to our OFWs. We should take all measures to ensure their welfare and safety," he asserted.

Immigration officials have earlier admitted that OFWs entering Afghanistan go on transit through Dubai and acquire entry visas to Afghanistan from their recruiters.

"Although we have over a thousand legal OFWs in Afghanistan, most of them senior officials of agencies like the World Bank, ADB, USAID and UNDP, we have more than 7,000 of them who are not legally documented in the DFA. This is alarming, and it is my hope that the Bureau of Immigration, along with the DFA, initiate stronger cooperation with relevant organizations to ensure the security and welfare of OFWs," Angara added.

Angara also cited an earlier report that OFWs who slip into war-torn or military-zone destinations are recruited mostly from Pampanga and Olongapo. "Many of these are children of former employees of the Subic Naval Base or the Clark Air Base who are very familiar of American military base operations, hence it is easy for them to get a job in these operations," he added.

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