Wednesday, June 15, 2005

More than 2,000 Filipino workers sneak into Iraq despite ban

Philstar - More than 2,000 Filipino workers have sneaked into Iraq to work for US military camps despite a government ban imposed last year, recruitment agencies said Tuesday.

The workers leave the country with forged travel papers and use Dubai as a jump-off point into Iraq, according to formal complaints presented by recruitment agencies to a government task force enforcing the travel ban.

On average 100 Filipinos have been leaving for Iraq every month to work in some 60 US military-run camps in Iraq, they said.

In Olongapo City, more than 300 workers in security services were recruited for Iraq and Afganistan. As of this writing, a secret training camp in Subic Bay is conducting refresher courses in anti-terrorism, re-tooling to include mine detection and safety and orientation on culture of their future host country by experts in Special Weapons and Tactics who were originaly trained by American and Israeli Counter-Terror operatives in 1996 to secure the 18 head of states who were in Subic during the APEC summit. Observers commented that "mercenaries" or "mercs" is the more appropriate term for these adventurers and not OFW. But with P100,000.00 to P150,000.00 monthly take home pay coupled with P2,000,000.00 insurance, its not at all surprising that applicants come in hundreds. In fact, Subic Bay is expecting a "security drain" (patterned from the famous "brain drain") if this trend continues.

These "mercs" will be tasked to secure western expats in Iraq and Afganistan, escort civilian convoys or construction/maintenance/supplies of different pro-democracy projects, and mine clearing operations.
Reports which was relayed by the first batch of Filipino "mercs" who are now operating in the Middle East for more than six months indicate that death is expected. Filipinos die (both pro and anti-democracy) in the Middle East but you will not see it in the news and our government most of the time does not even know about it.

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