Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo on Sunday ordered an investigation into an American firm for the illegal deployment in Iraq of five overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were almost kidnapped by armed men there Saturday.
In a statement, Romulo instructed Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs Jose Brillantes to investigate Dawood and Partners for the illegal deployment of Francisco Luz, Sherylyn Fontanilla, Imelda Talibao, Ginalyn Mejia, and Cherilyn Valdez "with the view of imposing sanctions or suspension for recruiting OFWs."
The five workers came under attack while on their way to the Baghdad International Airport. Two of them were slightly injured.
Romulo also called on the 4,000 or so Filipino workers in Iraq to consider immediately returning to the Philippines "in view of the dangerous security situation in that Middle East country."
On Romulo's instructions, charge d'affaires Eric Endaya of the Philippine embassy in Iraq reminded Filipinos there that the embassy is ready to assist them in their immediate return to the Philippines. He stressed that the government's deployment ban to Iraq remains in effect.
Dawood and Partners, an Amman-based catering company that provides services to US military facilities in Iraq, hired the five Filipinos as food servers and kitchen helpers, the Departmentof Foreign Affairs (DFA) said.
The five workers told Endaya they were recruited for supposed jobs in Amman a year ago. They signed a two-year employment contract in Manila.
However, when they got to Amman, they were brought to US military bases in Al-Assad and Taji in Iraq where they worked for one year. Due to sporadic mortar attacks in their worksites, they decided to go home without completing the two-year contract and sought the assistance of the Philippine embassy in Baghdad to facilitate their repatriation.
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