Press Release
August 2, 2013


Sen. Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada is urging the government to keenly monitor the condition and movement of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Iraq.

This developed as the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) resumed the processing and deployment of newly hired and rehired workers for Iraq, except on some areas identified "no-go" zones and excluding household service workers, following the certification from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that Iraq complies with the guarantees on the protection of the rights of foreign workers under Republic Act 10022.

The Governing Board Resolution No. 7 published on Tuesday noted that Iraqi government communicated its desire to hire Filipino skilled workers and professionals for the rehabilitation of Iraqi industries and facilities.

Sen. Estrada, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said that while this is a welcome development to widen the labor market for our skilled and professional workers, the government must maintain vigilance over the volatile peace and order situation in the Middle East country.

"We welcome the reopening of this labor market for our workers, as domestic employment in the country remains dismal. However, we should not push our workers into war zones just so they can be employed," Jinggoy said, adding:

"The government must ensure their safety and protection at all times and should be ready with contingency and repatriation measures should violence erupt anew, not only in Iraq but for all other countries hosting our workers," Jinggoy stressed.

Sen. Estrada noted that earlier this week, a series of car bombings broke out across Iraq, including in its capital Baghdad, killing at least 50 people. Reports also state that "suicide bomb attacks, car bombings and other violence have killed 3,000 people since April."

In December 2007, POEA suspended the processing and deployment of all workers bound for Iraq and Afghanistan because of the unstable peace and order situation in the country. POEA also imposed a total deployment ban on Iraq, except in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, on February 2012 until such time that it has been determined that the security condition has normalized.

Sen. Estrada also asserted that the Philippine diplomatic post in Iraq should validate and assure that the job offers for Filipino workers are genuine and that the companies hiring them are reputable.

"The Philippine diplomatic representation in Iraq should exercise due diligence on the background of Iraq-based companies employing our workers, conduct ocular inspection of the worksites and housing facilities, and ensure proper documentation of our migrant workers. Failure to do so may open Iraq market to human trafficking," Jinggoy says.

Lastly, Sen. Estrada is pushing for the initiation of talks for a bilateral labor agreement between the two countries and the eventual establishment of an overseas labor office in Baghdad.

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