Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Pinoys in Afghanistan want deployment ban lifted
MANILA, Philippines – Thousands of Filipinos working inside US bases in Afghanistan are urging the Aquino government to lift the deployment ban to the country.
The Filipinos in Afghanistan (FIA), an organization of Pinoys working in high-level and supervisory positions with international organizations and skilled workers from 64 US bases all over Afghanistan, are appealing to President Benigno Aquino III to immediately send an assessment team to the country’s capital, Kabul.
More than 6,000 Filipino workers in Afghanistan are in danger of being sent back to the Philippines by the end of this year, as the US Central Command has sent a memorandum to all contractors about illegally employing TCNs (Third Country Nationals) whose domestic laws prohibit their citizens from traveling and working in Afghanistan.
The memorandum orders all contractors to remove all TCNs from the jobsites upon termination of their contracts this year, and to repatriate them to their country of origin.
The Filipinos in Afghanistan sent a petition letter to President Aquino with copies furnished to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz.
The Pinoy community’s petition letter cited the following reasons why the deployment ban should be lifted:
· There are several thousands Filipinos working in international organizations like the UN, the World Bank, the Red Cross, USAID and hundreds of contractors of the US Central Command;
· The ban disallows them from returning to the Philippines during their vacation breaks, and Filipinos have to endure long periods of time to see their families;
· The ban impacts on the image of the Filipino workers in that country when sometimes they return home and give up their contracts;
· The ban gives airport authorities and immigration personnel opportunities to exact money from workers returning to Afghanistan during their semi-annual vacations since they possess Afghanistan entry permits;
· The current ban is unfair; Filipino seamen are being held hostage or captured by Somali pirates, but the government has not imposed a ban on deployment of seafarers;
· On the danger cited by the DFA that the country is in a hostile environment due to the attacks of the Taliban and numerous bomb attacks directed towards UN forces, they argued that their employers have adopted strict security measures for their housing and transportation.
The Filipino community said they are willing to adopt security measures by the DFA and DOLE for their safety and certification from their employers.