The Philippines special envoy to the Middle East, Roy Cimatu, revealed on Tuesday, January 21, some Iraqi employers of overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who wished to be repatriated, demand to be paid US$10,000 (about PHP500,000) before they would be allowed to leave.
“There are some recruiters who were able to receive from the employer US$10,000 and when they (OFWs) volunteer to come home, the employer would not allow them until they pay back the US$10,000,” Cimatu said.
“Therefore, they were able to get exit visa but when they were inside the airport, going to the immigration, they were barred, they were stopped because of the employer,” he added.
Cimatu made the revelation during a discussion on urgent OFW matters by the House Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs in the Philippine congress.
The Philippine government recently repatriated 13 Filipinos from Iraq—nine were from Baghdad and four were from Erbil as a precaution for the escalating tension between the US and Iran.
Cimatu said the employers followed the Filipinos to the airport and said that they have not settled the US$10,000 fee they paid the recruiters.
The Filipinos were not able to leave Iraq on that day and spent the night at the airport, Cimatu said.
“They stayed there and I would also like to commend the chargé d’affaires in Baghdad who accompanied the workers inside detention centre at the ariport,” Cimatu said.
The Filipinos were able to return home the following day with the help of the Iraqi Embassy, Cimatu said.
Cimatu said he had received reports that the situation in Baghdad in Iraq is “deteriorating,” highlighting the need for the immediate repatriation of OFWs there.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier ordered the military to prepare its air and naval assets for the possible repatriation of OFWs in the Middle East after the U.S. launched an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq, that killed Iran’s top general, Qassem Soleimani.
The Philippine government had repeatedly said it is ready to repatriate Filipinos in the Middle East amid the crisis in the region. (Source: INQUIRER.net)